“Social Media is a watering hole. You shouldn’t be surprised when the predators arrive.”
My good friend, Steven Lee Stinnett, said this to me a few years ago. I wasn’t surprised at the time, and I loved the analogy. Today I’m surprised when the predators AREN’T around. I think the watering hole metaphor still applies, but has morphed from an image of an oasis on the Serengeti to that of a modern-day caricature of the watering hole, otherwise known as a pickup bar.
This modern watering hole is noisy and crowded. Everyone is trying to look their best, doing everything in their power to attract attention. Some people are looking for relationships, and some are just looking to get laid. With the latter, there’s lots of conversation taking place, but conversation is not really the goal. It’s simply a means to an end. It’s a necessary evil. And all would be fine, if everyone just stayed sober. They don’t.
At this new watering hole we’re getting drunk on pokes, likes, retweets, fans, and followers. We’re drunk on the attention. It feels good. Who doesn’t like a good buzz? Who doesn’t want to feel wanted, needed or loved? The problem is, its not all real. And if we’re not drinking in moderation, it has the ability to impair our judgment and decrease our ability to distinguish between the people who are interested in a relationship and the people who are just trying to get us into bed with them, just trying to make a buck off of us.
Waking Up With A Stranger In Our Bed – Loss Of Trust
“I think the thing that I’ve noticed overall,” Laura Monroe shared with me, “is that with all the pandering people do over one another… for their own agendas, I’m left with a feeling that is the opposite of what social media should be. If EVERYONE gets behind something just to get their name shared, retweeted whatever… it all sounds the same, over and over. I lose trust in that.”
Or as Heather Elias put it, it’s becoming hard for some groups to “differentiate between people who have real wisdom to share and people who simply want to prey on them.” And it’s not the watering hole’s fault. It’s our fault. The drunker we all get at the watering hole, the harder it is to tell who the predators are.
If you’ve just arrived at this new watering hole, enjoy. It’s a great place. I really love it. Sometimes too much. Trust me, I’ve been drunk on social media attention my fair share. I’m learning along with everyone else. Perhaps it’s time for some of us regulars to stop drinking the spiked kool-aid, go grab a large cup of coffee with a close friend, and come back sober.