Social media has given us some amazing new channels for self expression. Common people are getting empowered and gaining an international audience by creating and sharing good stuff.
But just like digital cocaine, social media can also inflate people’s ego in a nasty way.
Rockstar? Or vapid starlet in love with your own digital reflection? image: jhuffman
It tempts us with a hypnotic, digital “mirror” that we can gaze into anytime – or all day long if we choose to. And it offers us hundreds of new ways to spread the latest gossip… which causes some people to get completely absorbed in the “me” part of social media.
The whole scene reminds me a lot of the dot com bubble of 1999… when a giddy, reckless sense of excitement over the new technology and culture heavily blurred the line between fantasy and reality.
One current phenomena that I find odd: just making a lot of chatter and noise is enough for some people to become “famous.”
What is a Social Media “Rockstar”?
Digg.com founder Kevin Rose. image: Garrette
Here’s my own personal definition:
A social media rockstar is a charismatic & highly-skilled person who gains a large audience because of their successful online projects and/or selfless community contributions.
A musical rockstar creates songs that inspires thousands of fans to fill stadiums, scream along and hold lighters in the air. A social media rockstar creates content and builds communities that inspire tens of thousands of people to link and leave blog comments.
While some rockstars can develop big egos, they’ve got recognized accomplishments to back them up:
- Popular bloggers who create valuable information resources.
- Community-minded organizers and top contributors on social sites.
- Founders, designers and architects of successful social technologies.
- Creators of “smash hit” viral content that spreads around the world like wildfire.
- Researchers and teachers who selflessly help lots of other people “get it.”
To me, people like Kevin Rose (co-founder of the top social news site ), Maki (#3 Digger and Technorati Top 20 blogger on social media culture), creatives like the Cracked.com publishers or Matt Inman (who consistently produce viral hit, after hit, after hit), or bloggers like Chris Brogan or Marshall Kirkpatrick (who spend a substantial amount of their time online creating guides and resources designed to help people) are the genuine social media rockstars.
What is a “Social Media Narcissist”?
There are plenty of people online who have managed to create a sizable audience without much in the way of skills or selfless community contributions. These social media narcissists participate heavily in the online conversation, but if you look closely you will see that most of it is just chatter about themselves, their opinions and their friends.
Some common traits of social media narcissists:
- Self-absorbed. They blog and tweet almost exclusively about themselves, their thoughts, their pictures.
- Rarely mention others except for personal buddies or admirers.
- Spend most of the day on Twitter.
- Perform little to no “real” work – don’t code, design, publish or promote much (except for themselves).
- Some live outside of the economic “real world”: independently wealthy, supported by their parents or spouse, live on venture capital $ or have a cushy job.
- Have a high noise-to-signal ratio.
- Complain a lot, yet create little of substance. Some use troll tactics to get attention.
- Attend lots of technology conferences just to party and hang out.
- Start their own conferences in order to feature themselves and friends as speakers.
Some examples of social media narcissists would be most mommybloggers, “Senior” social media strategists at big companies or PR firms (the ‘theoretical’ ones who talk big but have no social media presence or real life experience), and full-time Twitter “celebutantes” who hang out in cafes all day… chatting up several thousand mutual friends and spambots.
Some self-absorbed people may be very influential or get a large following but I still don’t consider them to be “rockstars.” I think of ‘em more like social media “talk show hosts” or “rappers.”
What Do You Think?
Am I a social media rockstar? Not even close. Am I a narcissistic new media douchebag? Man… I really hope not. But I admit that I am driven to learn how to use social media more effectively and to reach a wider audience.
Not for the warm fuzzies I’ll get from peeking in the digital mirror, but because I love connecting, sharing and helping people. I honestly believe that social media has potential to spark a powerful, positive force in human evolution if we filter the noise and learn how to use it uber-consciously. (And also because I’m totally hooked on it… so why not go all the way ?)
So, what’s your real social media agenda? Who do you think is a real social media “rockstar”? And what’s your take on the noise and the narcissism that comes served alongside the good stuff?
Get a FREE Website Evaluation!
Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.