There will be blood on the floor. Sure, we all worship at the alter of technology, we all (shameless, self-promoting whores that we are) love social media, and some of us might even be the best of friends. But, by the end of the night the list of survivors will be short and allegiances will be forever altered.
Having been on Twitter practically since it first launched, I was there for the first tweetups in New York City two years ago. It was fun and exciting (meeting these people who had been sharing their microthoughts and “following” me on this strange, new social media platform that nobody new quite what to do with). It was geek heaven. The community was very small and Twitter crashed more than it ran effectively — there was no shortage of discussion and back then (especially with investors throwing insane amounts of money at startups that were launching at an astounding rate).
Tweetups (and other social media gatherings) today have become dull and void of inspiration and imagination. We’re in a rut. All anyone does is stand around, with a drink in their hand, and compare the latest iPhone app (the only excitement happens when someone pulls out a camera). Here are photos from recent tweetups around the country:
There’s nothing wrong with these Tweetups necessarily, but they’re just so… congenial. They all look the same, they all sound the same, they are all, pretty much… the same. We can do better, and we can get more out of these face-to-face encounters with our social media compadres (otherwise, what’s the point of social media?).
Apparently, I’m far from the only one who feels this way. Dan Zarella (@danzarella) (the “social media scientist” and blogger known for dissecting social media through the lens of scientific research and experiments) has officially thrown down the gauntlet. Last week, Zarella wrote a post called “Social Media Battles – This Ain’t Your Father’s Tweetup” that was like a bright and hopeful light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Zarella’s starts the post by saying what many people in social media probably have thought at some point but most certainly won’t voice audibly in mixed company (like a tweetup):
“If you’ve seen me speak, or read my blog you’ve probably heard me rail against unicorns and rainbows advice. Going to lots of social media conferences, and reading a lot written about it, I’m noticing a disturbing lack of healthy debate, nobody disagrees with anyone else (at least not by name, in public).”
Hallelujah! Pass the holy wine! Not only has Zarella perfectly stated the problem, he has come up with a brilliant, fun solution: “Social Media Battles“. He explains briefly:
“Each battle will be composed of 2 people representing opposing viewpoints on a social media topic. They’ll each be given 2 minutes to make their case, and 1 minute rebuttals to their opponents, then the audience will decide the winner. Fast, simple and honest.”
My response to Zarella’s call-to-action: I’m down for a social media battle (I just have to remember to check my knife at the door). Two topics I’d like to suggest: (1) Social Media “Gurus”: Snake Oil Salesmen or Necessary Evils? and (2) Social Media Analytics: Fools Gold?
The first battle will be October 7th in Cambridge, MA but look for one in New York shortly thereafter and others happening in major cities across the country soon.
So, what do you think? Time to throw down the gauntlet and start having fearless debates about social media or stick to drinks, comparing iPhone apps and standing around trying not to look bored or boring?