Give me Heinz for my burger but not...

I'll say it. I'm a ketchup snob. I love Heinz Ketchup. All others are those longing to be ketchup. (Sorry.) But ok, ketchup lovers --- anyone else bothered by this picture?? See anything that just seems a little crazy...

I may be about to show my age...I may just be on a rant, but, well, here it goes. Here's my perspective - Social media should be about people and causes...not about products. Now I know I've clicked "like" for things like wanting a Chick-fil-A in Oregon --- that's a cause. I don't even know that I've clicked "like" Coca-Cola --- and if know me at all that says alot. I don't buy that social media should be used to promote a product. (I am sure I have friends right now that are about to jump out of their skin... hold on... hear me out!!)

I've always considered social media as an avenue for connection - community. While there are many arguments to be made on both sides about the validity of the connection or community, I can honestly with my heart say you get out of this what you put into it. If you want to be connected and in community and you are yourself --- whether in posts, blogs, pages whatever --- you can say you've been real and true here. I don't know exactly all the details about Facebook or MySpace being created, or even Twitter or blogging for that matter - but my perception (or maybe naive belief) is that it is about people - not stuff. People - ok. Organizations about people - ok. Causes - ok. But ketchup? Really?? Seriously?? Our culture has come to a place where anything and everything can be manipulated for the purpose of advertising and dollars. It's not about people anymore. I recognize and appreciate what social media ventures can bring to people and to favorite bands and to businesses... but we've made that swing... to something I don't think it was ever intended to be. I kinda liken it to MTV not playing music videos any more. If someone talks about not liking MTV - why is it? Because they don't play videos... it's lack of vision...focus... manipulating that which had a specific purpose and making it about something completely different. I'm not saying that there aren't times to evaluate and change direction...but becoming something you're not just for the sake of appealing to others, in my opinion, is a cop-out.

I admit it --- it may seem meaningless even to blog about it. It is probably in many eyes an inconsequential rant of ridiculous proportion. But I'm afraid that social media, social networking is a good thing that has started to go bad. Now, I'm not saying that from this day forward I'm bugging out of twitter, facebook, blogging. I like it. I like to twitter, blog, facebook... I like keeping up with friends & family. I like on occasion having a chat box open up with a "hey" from a friend on the other side of the world. I like putting ideas out there on the internet thinking maybe, just maybe, someone might read, or agree, or that someone may think about or seek answers to questions they have because of it. But now, the makers of Heinz and other "products" are taking over for their purposes. I'm even going to step on my own toes here --- I'm not even sure what I think about "like" for a tv show. And I've got a show or two I've clicked "like" for... But really... objects, products??? I don't get it. I don't understand. Even the obnoxious pop-up ads on the sides (which in many cases can be inappropriate too) can be frustrating. Facebook is always recreating itself - even today it said changes were coming on August 23rd...sigh - and making changes that people don't even really want to see. And in many cases, in my opinion, they haven't been the best changes overall... Likewise, I think it's good to make evaluations and improvements, but in the land of keep up, keep ahead, get farther up the ladder of "success" faster, we've come to a point where compromise seems like a much easier option than commitment.

You may see this as a jump, but I don't know that it is. Our world and culture is full of things that are a good thing gone bad. I already mentioned MTV (sorry - I just don't watch any more... it's all about anything but videos, right?) Even thinking about commercials - which are supposed to be about promoting a product - that's legit - but instead have become about promoting or invoking an emotion and tying a completely unrelated product to that. Um - no. (at what point is that considered manipulation???) Think about having self-confidence... that's a good thing. But take it to the level of being so confident that pride overtakes you and causes all sorts of other problems - not a good thing. It's a good thing gone bad. And there are plenty of other examples of this, but if I go down that road, this will be so much longer than it already is.

Long story short - I'm not going to unite with Heinz Ketchup lovers and make their fan page the one with the most "likes". I will go on Facebook to read up about and connect with friends and family. To get snippets of info to stay as much in the loop as I can. But I don't want that to be my only connection - anymore so than I would want to just be a fan of ketchup and never eat it on a burger. I know connection and community comes from real life interaction.

OK...this is for you Chel... let's be honest - even our technology has gotten us to the point where we can sit in a room with 2 to 4 to 10 other people and spend the entire time messing with Angry Birds or Hungry Sharks and not engaging in face-to-face conversation. iPhone - good with connecting with people and information... not so good when it interferes with real, legit face-to-face connection.

OK...I could go on and on and on and on. Like I said - maybe I'm completely off base, but I don't think I am. People, companies, churches, organizations, causes and yes, even products, need to look at their purpose, vision, mission and figure out why on earth they do what they do, and what these technological communities have to do with it... I know the world is changing every instant. But some things don't and shouldn't...and won't. I'm willing to embrace the time, but not sacrifice reality or common sense, or enter ludicrous alley a result. I'm done ranting now.

Here's my question - for Facebook, for Heinz, for me and for you. When's the last time you took a few minutes, an hour, a day, to look at all that is in your world - the things that you do, say, believe, participate in - and think about if they really honestly truly represent you, who you are, what you are, Who's you are? When was the last time you took an honest evaluation of the snapshot of your life right now and said - this - good. This other thing over here...a good thing gone bad. Maybe today is a good day for that...


erik w/a "k" said...

I "like" this post.

Krister said...

It's just like you said though... you get out of it what you put into it. The companies that are engaging with customers as part of the larger community are doing well. The ones just trying to jump in like it's a fad...they'll be "disliked" as soon as there is a real button to do so.

Love the point you make though. I "like" it too... :)


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