There was a time when somebody invented something like the wheel, the lightbulb, telephone, radio, you could count upon them remaining relevant for decades, generations even.
I remember in the early 1990s when Kansas City Star FYI editor Ellen Foley crowed about how great email was. What an amazing communications tool, Foley crowed. Let’s all start using it more and more and put an end to needless phone calls, voicemail messages, post it notes and personal encounters.
That was somewhat cutting edge thinking in 1993 when Foley ruled the features section roost. And from her lips to God’s ear the message hurtled and now who doesn’t live and die via email today?
I’ll tell you who, my twin 16 year-old daughters.
To them email is as outdated as writing an actual letter and sending it through the Post Office. Almost as rare as having actual telephone conversations with somebody other than their parents. Not quite as outmoded sending a Western Union telegram is to Baby Boomers, but look, at some point they’ll enter the workforce and probably rediscover the joys of email. Because that’s still the way we dinosaurs, 30-something and older communicate.
But what about the shelf life of trendy, so-called “social media” communication tools that the news media has raved about the past four or five years? Facebook and Twitter, to name two.
When I first glommed on to Facebook in 2008, it was a hip thing to do.
I remember some of the younger marketing folks at the Star raving about how clever Will Gregory‘s daily Facebook posts were. People were so excited to reveal to their newfound “friends” what they’d eaten for lunch and where. Or if they’d had “lunch beers.”
I have over 8,000 friends, but never went the “like” route.
And no insignificant details were too insignificant for people to share.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s as clever as Gregory at breathing life – or trying to anyway – into the mundane details of their otherwise forgettable daily lives. Do we really care who is shopping for new shoes today or who’s kid is home sick?
It was fast, immediate; it could be furious and it was mercifully short. Movie stars and athletes did it, and the media soaked it up like it totally mattered.
The Star went as far as to included several day-old Tweets in its FYI section. Kinda like serving up several day old bread. Hey, but why not? It’s not like blue haired newspaper readers would know the difference.
Now there are new social media world’s to conquer, but what about the shelf life of the ones many have just begun to master?
Here’s entertainment mensch Bob Lefsetz take on Twitter:
“It’s toast. Over. Done. History. Soon to be as behind the curve as Facebook, someday completely forgotten like Friendster.”
“You see there are too many people on the service. As a result, very few are heard. It’s happened over the past six months, tweeting is like a stone in a waterfall, or more accurately, pissing in the wind. In other words, if you tweet and nobody reads it, have you wasted your time?
“Twitter is becoming just like the rest of the world, a haven of winners and losers. Either you’re a star with an eight digit following and people are interested in what you have to say or…you’re ignored…And the public is not beholden to any of these services. Which is why the story of the Internet is a few services that stick and a ton that disappear…
“Yes, the stars of tomorrow will be thinkers. Who will build their followings, which will migrate from platform to platform. Just like you discarded your Palm for your BlackBerry for your iPhone…you’re gonna abandon platforms continuously, until it’s no longer about platforms but content…So tweet away. Until you realize no one’s reading.
“Then stop, read a book, become a three-dimensional person, have something to say.”