Asocial Media is on the rise
Asocial is defined by The Free Dictionary as follows:
1. Not social: "Bears are asocial, secretive animals" David Graber.
2. Avoiding or averse to the society of others; not sociable: "It's not that you're so asocial, but a man who likes people doesn't wind up in the Antarctic" Saul Bellow.
3. Unable or unwilling to conform to normal standards of social behavior; antisocial: "crime, riots, drug use and other asocial behavior" Derek Shearer.
4. Inconsiderate of others; self-centered.
Twitter races and other follower incentives fall outside of 'normal standards of social behavior' and, more importantly, are obviously 'self-centered' in nature.
Twitter Races are Asocial
The Internati is buzzing about the race to 1,000,000 Twitter followers. CNN versus Ashton Kutcher. And now Oprah is entering the race. OMG!
I don't care and neither should you.
Popularity is fleeting and is not social. You do not have a relationship with these people. Ashton Kutcher does not know who you are. Oprah isn't going to reply to your tweet. You're simply feeding their ego and business.
Dunbar's number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person.
I'd argue that social networking expands this limit to some degree. However, the foundation of the research is still valid. Even 1,000 'friends' surpasses the limit where you're engaging in social relationships.
Followers are not Social
Think about the term 'followers' for a minute. Has it sunk in? The definition of follower is:
1. One who subscribes to the teachings or methods of another; an adherent: a follower of Gandhi.
2. A servant; a subordinate.
3. A fan; an enthusiast.
4. One that imitates or copies another: A successful marketing campaign will have many followers.
5. A machine element moved by another machine element.
It's a one way street. It's a simple form of worship. There's no relationship. There's no social.
So if it's not social, what is it? It's marketing. This can be seen even in the way in which people are trying to obtain followers.
Providing incentives to obtain followers is on the rise. Giving out a new iPhone or a free copy of some report or other bribes seem to be par for the course lately.
Again, this isn't social. It's marketing. It's business. Oddly, it's pretty bad business too. Any savvy marketer knows that 'customers' you acquire through sweepstakes and contests are of low quality.
If we return to the definition of asocial and use the last entry we get to the heart of the matter. (Hat tip to Graham Greene.) It's about ego, about self-promotion and about self-affirmation. There's nothing wrong with this but it's not particularly social and it's not spawning the conversations so often heralded as the next big thing.
In the end, is quantity mutually exclusive from social?