The Sore Thumb of Social Media

HammerOne recent evening, I was listening to a talk radio station while driving home after a business trip.

(As an aside, did anyone else think they would never ever ever listen to talk radio when they were kids?)

I don’t recall the exact topic of conversation, but it was insignificant until the host’s last line: “You’ve gotta be careful.  Twitter, Facebook, social media will hurt you.” At that point, I started making odd faces at my digital dial, because there was obviously a disconnect between the host and the actual concepts he was discussing.

You see, social media platforms like The Twitter (thank you, Betty White, for making that an acceptable phrase), The Facebook (thank you, Justin Timberlake, for reminding us why they dropped the “The”) and others are tools.  Tools can’t hurt you unless you make them.

For example, let’s examine the hammer.

The hammer is one of the most ancient tools mankind still uses.  It’s an old invention, right up there with the wheel, fire and the aforementioned Betty White (ouch, I hate myself a little bit for that joke). We’ve been using the hammer for nearly all of recorded human history, from the time we started walking on two legs.  (If you don’t believe in evolution, just read the first half of that sentence.)

If you’ve used a hammer, you know that, if used properly, it does a fantastic job at multiplying your force to maximize the impact on the object you intend to strike.  If you’ve used a hammer, you know that, if used improperly, you’ll hit your thumb and cry like the “leave Britney alone” guy.

Did the hammer cause your sore thumb?  Or did you inflict the pain by misusing the tool? That’s exactly what is going on in social media.  Too many people are blaming Facebook and Twitter for their “sore thumbs” and not considering their own actions.  And, if I can be brutally honest, that kind of switches the paradigm and makes them the tool.

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