Being Heard vs Being Believed

People don’t say things on social media solely for the sake of communication. They trade in subtext and reaction.

Subtext has always been there. No one says anything on social networks without considering, if only briefly, “what does what I’m about to write, say about me?” You generally don’t notice the exceptions to that rule, because you’ve already blocked or unfriended them.

That awareness of brand YOU is natural. But this widespread need to create reaction is a little newer and a little scarier.

Just as X-Factor has made the once mystical art of music stardom doable, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have turned everyone into one person PR agencies. With video shows like Rude Tube giving brief exposure to anyone with a camera-phone and print and TV news outlets turning to hash-tags for live reaction where they would once interview a witness, it’s easy to see the appeal in going viral.

But at the end of the day what’s the point of it all?

I have friends who are artists and business owners. The vast majority work their social networks like there’s no tomorrow, and I get it. They’re pushing their product. Good luck to them. But to everyone else…to the guy who videos his dog barking in time to Dizzee Rascal, what’s the point?

It can’t be fame, surely? If a group of fame-hungries can stay in the Big Brother house for months with video cameras and microphones following their every move – subject themselves to disgrace and ridicule – come out to huge crowds and still not become ‘faymus’ then why would our grime loving Labrador owner think his video would get him in Forbes?

So if it’s not the fame itself, is it the flirt with fame, or fame on a smaller more realistic scale? Has yesterday’s 15 minutes become today’s millisecond? Is this just a modern manifestation of our age old pursuit of being a household name?

Or is it that the thought of making no cultural impression is unthinkable in a world where so many do just that with only 140 characters?

Whatever it is, it now covers everything I see online with a thick layer of cynicism. I’ve got trust issues! I read a blog, tweet or status and instead of accepting the narrative and simply enjoying the words/sentiment, I find myself questioning the motive; its credibility.

Sometimes a piece passes my test and I believe again, sometimes they don’t and I just read the words. A bit like watching Al Pacino and De Niro.

I watch Pacino and completely forget the actor and see only the character. I watch Bob and generally (or least since circa 1990) only see Bob. I read a rare Pacino interview, where he described his motive for staying out of the Hollywood limelight. He said he didn’t want his personality to become too big, so as to overshadow the characters he portrays. Perhaps our need to be seen through the words and not necessarily read, lessens our credibility. Perhaps sooner or later we’ll all just view every written word on social media in the way we view TV advertising and political speeches: It sounds nice, but deep down it’s all a load of contrived crap.

20130821-020039.jpg
“Trust me. I wrote it online.” Image courtesy of theguardian.co.uk.

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About The Other Me

Londoner born and raised. Living in Denmark. Occasional singer/songwriter, music fan, nearly author, recovering procrastinator. To read or listen to the amateur stuff I call my art, click on the picture and press the links to either my FB, Wordpress or bandcamp pages. Thanks
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114 Responses to Being Heard vs Being Believed

  1. You were gone for a while, and now you’re back! Glad to be reading you again. Your posts are an example of why social media is a good thing. Also, a You Tube video helped me fix my printer. So that’s not all bad either.

  2. lozlozloz says:

    I’ve never seen this guy who videos his dog barking in time to Dizzee Rascal, but that sounds hilarious.
    Hilarity will always be a reason.

  3. technophile9 says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! And good post.

  4. awax1217 says:

    Everyone thinks they are the one, the ego floats, I need the ego feed and therefore everything I write, all the prose written must be accepted and stroked by the readers. Otherwise I will disavow them. What do they know? I remember as a teacher I became very aware that each parent expects their child to do well. How dare I give their perfect product a low grade? If I did then there is something wrong with me, I am not a good teacher. So I understand, a truly good performance is rare and when seen it is difficult to persuade the artist that he or she was that good. The truly greats do not need accolades, they do not need strokes, they know and that is enough.

    • The Other Me says:

      I disagree, I think all artists need ‘strokes.’ Or at least they need their message/art to be heard; to connect. Thanks for reading.

      • bernasvibe says:

        Totally agree with this sentiment! It is one of the reasons writers /authors write..Singers sing, etc etc yada yada..Glad you were FP’ed or I’d not have discovered your blog spot..Dig the realness behind the ebb & flow of your words..It matters to me, lol As for the topic at hand…I tend to find prefer blog sites that aren’t sponsored(I’m not big on FB at all; I prefer real offline interactions with folks..Only on FB as rep of my company) Not to say a person without big time sponsors; couldn’t also be full of B.S. & hot air..Happens..But that could happen online or offline..Personally? I’m a people-loving social-butterfly with a gift for gab..I like the connection..And I do that on & offline..Its afforded the beautiful opportunity of having chatted with an array of people, hundreds, from a multitude of backgrounds/cultures..I love IT. 2 thumbs UP on your write..Write ON

      • The Other Me says:

        Blessings. I’m trying to lay off FB. My life looks so happy and successful there, and no one is happy all the time (although I’m about as happy as I’ve ever been right now) and completely failure free, we just tend not to post about that. I’ve relocated countries (London to Denmark) and my folks have gone back to JA, plus my I have a lot of family in America so FB helps tie everyone together, yeah…pros n cons. Thanks for following.

      • bernasvibe says:

        Can totally understand there are GREAT reasons to use FB..And I’ve family/friends who use it for the exact same reason you do..It ties folks together alot cheaper than phone lines; and can do it all in one spot! I can dig that..however there are also issues/dangers of using FB..Folks put too much personal info on there have been bit in the fanny..I think people forget FB is constantly, as is the Internet, monitored by the Gov’t & is the first go-to spot for anyone seeking background checks on you.(especially jobs & even college entrance panels..) When used with common sense though? FB can be an excellent tool for linking family /friends UP..Denmark isn’t on my list of places to visit..I don’t know much about the lifestyle there..Hows life treating you there?

      • The Other Me says:

        It’s good. Enjoying the change of pace. I’ve been blogging about it and will no doubt continue to write about it.

      • bernasvibe says:

        Ahhhh that is way cool! Still very new to your blog spot..But I will read up on what you’ve written on it..How awesome to be able to do so..I consider myself well traveled(somewhat due to having been a military brat..) but there are yet SO many places on my to -visit list..

  5. ncbek says:

    I think you bring up an interesting discussion, however I don’t believe it starts off with wanting to be famous or get in the limelight. It all starts with something that amuses us personally, or that we have done through our daily lives, without thinking of what others think. It is social media that I believe perpetuates this into something greater and more grotesque. The problem with our society, is that we are all amused by the odd and strange, and for some it is a amusement that is shared, and for others it is something that is much more rooted in a defensive/misunderstood nature. If we allow ourselves to develop the world around us by little blips on the radar screen, without actually taking a look at the full picture, we are missing the point, and only focusing on what may intrigue us for the half second of strange laughter or hatred. I am not sure if my points make much sense, and I did not take the time to think this reply through, but I do like your points and find this entire idea strikingly real. Social media has put the annoying loud mouths we have all dealt with in our lives at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

    Thanks for the post and sharing with us your ideas!

    N~
    http://ncbek.wordpress.com
    http://throughtiredeyes.wordpress.com

  6. deballan says:

    Reblogged this on debbie's space and commented:
    This is hitting the proverbial nail with a sledgehammer! I love it and completely support it!
    From one who questions her every word BEFORE it is written SEVERAL times, and then again before hitting “post”.

  7. twitchthethread says:

    This was so apt and true and expressed the thoughts on my mind at the moment perfectly! Thank you!

  8. Karl Drobnic says:

    In the 19th Century, there were legions of diary writers and journal keepers. Blogging is a technologically updated form of that, and it includes sharing now instead of somewhere in the future. The web has reinvigorated an old tradition.

  9. Sophy says:

    Hi. your words caught my attention ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Meghan says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’m a recent graduate going into the PR and social media field. There’s this idea that no story or presence means you will eventually have a negative presence. With such quick media updates I think it’s easy to get caught up in the quantity and not the quality of what we share. Honestly on a personal live I’ve tried to steer away from that and ask myself those basic questions we learned in kindergarten about our speech, “Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, kind?” Now I can add “Will I ever regret that this is a permanent part of the internet?” It’s a good time to start teaching social media etiquette.

  11. davidatqcm says:

    Much appreciated, thoughtful post, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Well written.

  12. It’s so true. Every night I ask myself why I’m blogging – isn’t really just an extension of my ego? And I get the sad answer back, yes it really is just an extension of your ego. Then it just becomes like any other addiction, the need to be heard, to be seen, to be loved, and you just want more, more, more of all of it… what to do? Every night I ask myself why I don’t just delete my blog… but still I just go writing… on one hand it is definitely like therapy, and on the other hand I know that I’m just feeding lunch to the demons… Great article!

    • The Other Me says:

      I think every artist battles with the same issues, but art is meant to be expressed and consumed. The question I guess is whether everything we deem art is really art? And whether our need to be seen is greater than our need to express? Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  13. Congratulations on becoming more known!

  14. katmaxwell says:

    Very thought provoking. Thanks for publishing this post!

  15. godtisx says:

    Unh huh! Spot on!!!! Great post…

  16. whowhy2013 says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this. So often I start to read a post/blog and I have to let it go because it is just words that do not hold my attention.

  17. It’s certainly a sign of the times that everyone is expected to market themselves via social media to have any credibility, yet as you point out, it’s ironically one of the least credible forms of communication. Like Arthur Daley (a little bit dodgy maybe, but underneath, he’s alright!) I think if you sift through the melodrama there are some genuine dealers of good honest, reliable, human emotions; old songs and video clips that speak to generations on Youtube and are re-shared amongst genuine bona fida friends on Facebook, and folks just wanting to make the world smile and laugh more – it may be crap in comparison to more important cerebral discussions but my son strategically tagging me in LOTR or grumpy cat meme’s when he knows I’m somewhere where I shouldn’t be a) looking at my phone and b) definitely not looking at my phone when I’ve been tagged in something that’s guaranteed to make me laugh uncontrollably, is kind of endearing. If you don’t count the trolls and the narcissists there are still an awful lot of people on social media making the world feel a much smaller and friendly place…….and Twitter at the very least forces us into editing to the bare essentials of communication, with some really flexing their creativity and wit in that medium (writers like Paulo Coelho and Stephen Fry for instance). Brilliant post, and congrats on the FP’d.

  18. Just a hunger to connect? To be known? (God, what does that say about me? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) ! But just like in real life, we often don’t know how to do that in a way that gives us what we (really) want.

  19. Holly says:

    I’m now trying to write something you may believe… I won’t overthink it though, that’s the point to a blog I think sometimes. I really enjoyed this post, great topic, good points and to the point!

    • The Other Me says:

      I believe you…you’re praising my work, why wouldn’t I?! ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you enjoyed it. I think there’s a fine line between being pragmatic about your work and over-thinking. Thanks for the kind words.

  20. tanicr says:

    Hahahh so funny you wrote exactly what my bfriend its been telling me since i started blogging ๐Ÿ˜Š
    I like your blog definitively follow!
    http://www.littleprettymess.com

  21. micahrivetti says:

    I like what you did there ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. bt9216 says:

    Reblogged this on London Biz and commented:
    Interesting read about the use of social media

  23. The best part of making a new friend is the gradual discovery of the style of them, learning their unique mannerisms during the stories they tell, memorizing the high notes of their laugh, feeling the evolutionary ideas that spring from the synergy of you and them. It’s like unwrapping a present: you don’t click on it to open, you enjoy the whole process. It’s visceral. You store these things in your body. The real time thrill of face to face conversations and activities with a good friend seals in the flavor of the moment like a good steak. Try tasting a steak over Facebook.

  24. Great read.
    Congrats on gettin’ PRESSED!!

  25. Thank you for the Being Heard vs Being Believed. That’s worthy of pondering deeper -needs our choice for our actions could prove our words. So I asked myself what are my goals? …
    I just posted what is behind the bars? and it would be great to read your comments. I feel that our communication could be the fruitful…in any case, that’s my dream.

  26. Godiva ATL says:

    I just stumbled upon you and I’m glad I did! Great post!

  27. Charity says:

    Good Job, Sean! I was on Facebook for a year and a half, had over 500 friends, and left three years ago. Many of my “friends” I really did know, at least at one time. The ones that I didn’t know too well, I tried my best to understand. Often the same sentiment wasn’t returned and that was one of the big reasons why I left.

    It really does seem as though we all are our own PR person in social media.

    I love blogging because it is what I had hoped for Facebook to be. I’m glad I have it to unload or think out loud. Most of all, it helps me to connect with the kind of people I rarely find in this part of the U S.

    Thank you, Sean, for this great post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  28. stillstella says:

    Im a new reader, but I hope will keep in touch. Dont forget to write ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Renars says:

    I would vote it’s just a self-expression and Facebook/twitter is perfect for that. One is more for narcissists than the other.

    • The Other Me says:

      Yeah call me cynical, but I think there’s more narcissists than there’s people just wanting to entertain/express, but our experiences on social networks are all completely different, given that they’re governed by our networks. Maybe my views are more a reflection of my network. Thanks for passing through.

      • Renars says:

        Yes. Also technology is changing at faster pace than generations can change. Some can embrace it to the max (especially millennials) however many others are still trying to figure out how this social network thing works.

  30. hasejo says:

    Reblogged this on hasejo and commented:
    Keep to read and understand

  31. BetaJuliet says:

    Reblogged this on skatterbOt and commented:
    Great post on communication and social media.

  32. fusionalcook says:

    I feel that blogging in some ways allows one to try out another career – an alternative identity that one could have had had different choices been made. The problem I foresee is similar to that of Facebook. The online persona can become so far removed from the offline that it is like living two or more lives. So what happens when this becomes the norm?

    • The Other Me says:

      Yep, I blogged about that a while back. It’s interesting. I think the contrast between our online and offline identities is generally born from the way we use the media, as opposed to a deliberate image redesign. Most of us tend not to post about the negativities of life, and some us are more articulate and witty when we write, than in person, but I’m sure there are some who completely fabricate new existences. Thanks for the comment.

  33. We navigate a pretty alarming social environment now, I agree. On the one hand, without social context, we really are nothing –like a truly amazing book that the author buries in the sand. We need the eyes of the ‘other’ to really bring the thing into existence at all. On the other hand, we now don’t deal in really great books. We tell everyone what we’re doing and eating at any given minute of a day. ‘Like’ buttons and quick shares make validation easy to give and easy to measurably receive. Somehow, we’ve made everyone the center of the universe. Whether we are blogging about the exciting findings in modern physics, or about how cute cats are when they nap –we have leveled the playing field –and sometimes its just not fun to play anymore.

    Great post, and congratulations on freshly pressed!

  34. Really interesting read! On the same ‘social media’ topic someone did a great piece applying Michel Foucault’s idea of the panopticon (the idea of always being watched) to the effect social media has on our lives, you might like it. But I relate to your piece a lot easier, especially your sentiments around this empty personality people put onto our various feeds, but, at the end of the day, I choose to unfollow superficial and uninteresting people because it’s ultimately not great for my mood to see how silly people can be.

  35. aimiuwumeg says:

    Try and just show a little kindness and shine a little light for every one to see.

  36. f4ischer says:

    Hello, I am new to the blogging world. I see that you have a good audience on your blog. I am an author and I just published my autobiography. I self published so I need to market it on my own. I want to raise awareness about my book so that it can reach and impact as many people as possible. If you can put this on your blog for your readers I would greatly appreciate it. I see that you have quote the following and it would really help if I had somebody with experience to help me promote my book. Thank you!! If you can even go to my blog and โ€˜reblogโ€™ my post about my book that would be awesome thank you so much!!

    http://www.createspace.com/4271634

  37. victorialittle says:

    Reblogged this on victorialittle and commented:
    I like this!

  38. Pingback: Why we blog: ego, technology, markets and the death of the public sphere | New ideas, new economy

  39. 2cupsofjoe says:

    At least the public service well paid figureheads didn’t limit free speech or charge a fee on typed wordology.

  40. jamborobyn says:

    What is the prize for being the most liked person on facebook? Why are they doing it – because everyone else is and they may fail to live up to their…oh I don’t know. Let me read a well-thought out article put together by a real person over that any day of the week. Nice work here I’m looking forward to reading some of your creative pieces too (see whether you really are real).

  41. keithsakata says:

    Your post is raw and real, and you tell it like it is. Great read!

  42. Interesting post, it gets me thinking what is my motive in writing, is my public the same as my private? And that is no bad thing! I can’t say I’m an admirer of the 140-character characterless, hashtag laziness that we call communication these days, so I was refreshed by your post! Well written too.

  43. You tells it like you sees it. No mincing word. Straight forward.

    But, always crap?? Can’t agree with that. (Though there are a lot of bullshippers out there!)

    It’s almost time for bed in Denmark and late afternoon here. Words and relating to other people help our world grow smaller.There is always an inherent pitfall of not being totally understood when there is no face-to-face contact, no touching, no body language. But then, there is a lot of crap going on in face-to-face contact, too.

    Have an awesome day devoid of crap! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • The Other Me says:

      No, I agree with you. Of course not all is crap, I’m suggesting that in future we may all look at all online social words with the kind of cynicism we apply to politicians, but just take my words with a pinch of salt.

  44. brettdwylie says:

    I can’t tell you how many times a day I read through the social media jargon and think the exact thoughts you wrote in this article. Everyone can portray themselves however they wish in social media, which is a blessing – and also a curse to the credibility of many. Great post.

  45. Pingback: The Trouble with Internet Fame | Christina Erne

  46. Really enjoyed this, thanks.

    That’s a horrible phrase, “brand me”, but you hit the nail on the head. I’m new to social media and it struck me immediately that’s it’s almost impossible not to think at least a little bit about what the things you publish say about you. I have to say i prefer conversation – you say something stupid, have a laugh at yourself, and move on – In reality it’s your body language that sticks with people.

  47. emeritatherapy says:

    “Sometimes a piece passes my test and I believe again, sometimes they donโ€™t and I just read the words. A bit like watching Al Pacino and De Niro.” And then there’s YOU! If there’s one than there must be two. Great post. First time reading you, but I truly appreciated it, won’t be the last. The title captured my interest. “Being Heard vs Being Believed” It’s an awesome title all by itself. Says so much to me already.

  48. Farhan says:

    I really felt this with twitter and Facebook. I eventually quit both.

  49. chickcando says:

    Stop it! Everyone on FB is not who the say they are?! (Says with tongue in cheek!).
    I’m with you. I have family all over the place. I can’t quit. I love their photos. I love to laugh. And I need to edit out a few people who are simply flies in my sweet tea.
    This was a great read. Thank you!

  50. hiezmalubual says:

    I think more than 90% of the comments here in received replies from you. I admire your intentions of reaching out. Keep writing ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. godtisx says:

    Yeah…. *nodding in agreement.*

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