I’ve been thinking this for a while: we are in survival mode. We’ve evolved how we communicate, how we share, how we collaborate, how we curate, how we skim and snack on data, how we trust and choose our connections and how we rely on storytelling. These are all coping mechanisms evolved to deal with to the excess of social media and the explosion of content marketing.
We’ve gone full circle. We’ve gone back to being cavemen. We’re not in fear of losing our lives, but we fear losing our attention and our meaning. We are in a constant fight or flight mode. The light is always on. The job is never done. We feel inadequate.
We’re not worried about being eaten alive by beasts like a woolly mammoth or a sabre tooth tiger.
We’re being eaten alive by excess of media and the excess of content. We don’t have a moment to think.
We’re racked with guilt of all the things we haven’t accomplished.
We need to cope.
Attention is our scarcest resource.
We’d love the world to stand still, but it won’t. It rushes by and we rush to catch up.
So how do we cope? How do we compare?
Just like the Paradox of Choice where each new choice is seemingly good, but ultimately too much choice is not good for the human brain. Barry Schwartz argues that we lose the power of rational thinking when we are faced with more than a couple of choices.
The Paradox of Content Marketing is just the same. We crave more, yet choke on our inputs and our outputs.
What’s worse is we are collaborating to cope and at the same time collaborating to exacerbate the problem.
We crave more and yet we really are not capable of processing the resulting output. At the same time, we have no pity for others and we output more. Attack is the best form of defence. We contribute to the problem.
Automation is on the rise, automated content creation, automated curation, automated sharing.
So how do we cope? It’s my belief that we’ve evolved seven coping mechanism to deal with the excess:
7 coping mechanisms to deal with Social Media's Excess
Sharing is a Coping Mechanism
Sharing - We share to help others and we share to help ourselves. Perhaps others can help us shine a light on what really matters. Sharing has become a two way process. Sharing is also self validating.
Collaborating is a Coping Mechanism
Collaborating - We are learning collaboration and the sharing or crowds, community and engagement is the only way to rise above the noise. Collaboration is a coping mechanism.
Skimming is a Coping Mechanism
Skimming - We skim to survive. We look for easy skimmable content. We want headlines and soundbites. We look for the shortest route to ROI. We want value and we want it fast. To a large degree it explains why we love lists. Skimming is also bi-directional. We know get get skimmed to.
Brevity is a Coping Mechanism
Brevity - Skimming leads to the need for brevity. Twitter is the perfect example, but SMS preceded Twitter. We like to ping and be pinged back. We need and crave constant contact. The red light on the blackberry was a sign to call us to check. Now we get calls to Facebook and to check our status updates and mentions. We need it brief, but we need it constant.
Curation is a Coping Mechanism
Curation - Curation is a coping mechanism. We curate to distill. To be brief. We also curate to package up opinions. We curate to be interesting and feed the skimmers and the info snackers. Curation is totally a coping mechanism.
Trust is a Coping Mechanism
Trust - We make some very quick judgments - on people, products and experiences - all to cope. We have to make judgement constantly about how and why we spend our time. Trust is a coping mechanism. Trust is a filter. People are excessively visible online. We are reachable, addressable. We can listen. We can hear the approaches. The more famous and influential you are the more approaches you receive. We filter to cope. We form our networks, our inner circle to cope.
Conversation & Storytelling are Coping Mechanisms
Conversation & Storytelling - Constant communication and the sharing of stories is another coping mechanism. Stories give us content, build trust - stories curate our version of the truth. Stories intertwine our journeys and experiences. Stories connect us. Stories are totally a coping mechanism.
How about you? Am I missing anything? What do you do to cope?
Please add your most effective coping mechanism to the list. And feel free to vote or leave a comment on the list too.
Image Credit perspective via Flickr.com and Creative Commons