Will it all become one big sharing party?

This afternoon, I read a piece in the New York Times about the Tateuchi Center, a new performance space opening in 2014 in Bellevue, Washington. This hall plans to allow the use of smart phones during performances, and is even adding an antenna to make sure patrons have a strong enough cellular signal to post and tweet as they please. The assumption is that the additional sharing of live performances via social networks will attract a younger and larger crowd, and it seems logical enough. Given my line of work (social media marketing), part of me looks forward to the adoption and all the fun to be had with this brave new concert etiquette in 2014. However, a bigger part of me worries and feels a bit sad: no place is sacred anymore.

Now would be a good time to share with you some thoughts on my mind about “sharing.”

Sharing at events – For the past couple of years, I’ve attended many social media, technology, marketing and networking events and conferences. For some of them, I’m responsible for live tweeting/sharing sound bytes and snapshots, and responding to comments and questions in the back channel. At the majority of them, it’s “customary” (or expected) that I’d check in on three or four location based apps upon arrival at the venue, tag a bunch of friends or associates, and then proceed to take pictures (or have them taken) and share them on more social networking sites. Early on along this process, I would obtain the official event hashtag so that my event related tweets are properly tagged, and so I can use it when following up with fellow attendees afterward. Here’s the secret. Of all the events I attended over the past three years or so, at least eighty percent of talks or presentations didn’t really register with me. Sitting among the audience, and often closer to the front, I look very focused, furiously taking notes. The truth is, I’m so busy listening for the next tweetable and retweetable sound bytes from the presenters that I don’t actually hear anything. I’m too busy sharing.

Sharing while reading – At night, I pick up my Kindle for some bedtime reading, and marvel at the possibility (and now a reality) of communicating with authors and fellow readers electronically. Instead of discovering others’ notes in used book stores, I can now find them online. Instead of penning letters to authors or seeing them at library events, I can now send them questions or feedback while I’m in the middle of the digital book. Is this cool? Sure. Do I want to participate? I don’t know. I grew up knowing reading as an essential part of my solitude. Sharing is great for book club discussions. Social interactions while reading, I feel, would take away from my own process and appreciation of the work, and I have to wonder if writers really want that for readers or for themselves.

Sharing in everyday life – Two weeks ago, as I was pulling out of our driveway and heading to the office, a deer emerged from the woods and strolled onto our front lawn. I stopped, turned off the engine and rolled down the window. He stood by our young maple tree and looked right at me. Like reflex, I reached for my phone to take pictures for Instagram, and text TJ and Ty about it, but before I even finished entering my phone passcode, the deer walked around my car, and began trotting up and down our quiet street. I decided to put my phone down and just enjoy the encounter. It was mine to savor. I didn’t need to tell the world about it right then. Sharing the event digitally, instead of focusing on the joy of those moments, would have been a shame. Interrupting that time and experience would be disrespecting myself.

By now, you’re wondering: “Wait, doesn’t every social media marketer love to share everything and want everyone to do the same?” It seems that way, doesn’t it? :)  The answer is: yes and no, and I can only speak for me. Thing 1: I’m human. I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. My sharing activities have to take my loved ones’ lives, feelings and privacy into consideration. Thing 2: I do work in social media and I’m a fan of word-of-mouth marketing. Not every sales and marketing message can or should to made “social” or “sharable.” It has to be relevant first. I’m pretty stubborn about this and will discuss this in another post later.

How much and how often do you share? Where do you draw the line? Is that line moving or blurring in your world?

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Your post hit on a topic I’ve given some thought to over the past year, but you wrapped it in a way that I haven’t been able to convey. I’ve had a number of those deer moments as well that make me wonder if I’m more concerned with the event or the sharing of the event.

    On a similar topic, I’ve stopped videotaping my daughters piano recitals. I found that as she was preparing to play, I’d sit there all stressed out that I’d miss the event. Instead of enjoying the other musicians, I was fiddling with my camera settings or thinking which side of the audience gave me the best vantage point from which to shoot.

    What I realized after a couple of recitals was that I returned home not really hearing any music. In a sense, I captured but missed the event! Sure, I could replay the performance on a 21 inch monitor. But that’s not the same as actually listening in the moment. The past two recitals I sat in my chair and listened to each of the performances. And it was wonderful to actually HEAR the music.

    If everyone is busing sharing, are they actually hearing and digesting the words of the speaker? The one event I attended last year where that wasn’t the case was TedxOverlake. The audience was there to listen. To hear and to understand the speaker. It was so unlike a tech conference, and that’s a good thing.

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