And no, I don’t mean the feeling you get sometimes where you feel like you have to tune all the noise out and shut off before you overload. That’s not deafness, that’s common sense, and I highly recommend it.
No, this is different. Michael Pinto coined (as far as I can tell) the term"social media deafness " to describe people who are tone-deaf to the basic etiquette of social media.
While he’s more pessimistic than I am about people’s inherent capabilities, I love the concept because it describes what I’m always talking about so well.
Social media is human interaction. That’s it. There might be a couple of new terms and platforms to get the hang of, but what you do with it isn’t any different than talking to people anywhere else.
I recently described Twitter as a cocktail party where you can dip in and out of conversations, chatting about work and life, meeting new people, hearing about interesting stuffÂ – but with the advantage that you can come and go, stopping by the party whenever you have time.
In that same conversation, the lovely Colleen of BuzzNetworker compared the Twitter auto-DM (one of the most pervasive types of social media deafness) with someone walking up to you in that party and whispering in your ear, "Thanks for the conversation." Which would be bizarre and completely counterproductive for the whisperer, right? And that exactly describes how I feel about people who have auto-DM messages set up, so that when you follow them on Twitter you get a canned message from them. It’s odd, and it makes me question whether they’re going to be good people to get to know.
Think about how you interact with people… in person, on the phone, by email, on blogs and Twitter and social networks and the rest of it. Are you just being yourself?
I know my own weaknesses: I’ve got the odd combination of having a big mouth and being really shy deep down. So when I get nervous, I either clam up or chatter on – it’s like some awful conversational inertia . (Which, hmm, remind me to do a post on Newton’s laws of social media – but, sorry, dorky digression.)
Point is, we have to remember the hardest thing to remember, especially when we’re not comfortable (new, nervous, etc.). People are just people. Don’t treat them like statistics or inanimate objects or false idols. Everybody’s the same deep down, and that doesn’t change if it’s online. Still just people.
And that’s the beauty of it all.