Home Cartoon: Conspicuous Me

Cartoon: Conspicuous Me

I can directly thank two people for today’s cartoon. One is Deb Ng, who tweeted this a few days ago:

If I were to propose a day where no one tweeted links to their own stuff, would you laugh at me, or think “hmmm. That’s a good idea?”

And the other is my wife and Social Signal partner, Alexandra Samuel, whose take on those tweets was:

I’m in an exotic location, contributing brilliant, world-changing insights to a conversation among important, influential people.

No question, there’s a lot of “Look at me, look at me!” on Twitter. It ranges from the routine status updates that are the meat-and-potatoes of dismissive media coverage of Twitter (“That last burrito isn’t sitting too well”), to the kind of self-promotion that can land you a front-page slot on Tweeting Too Hard.

But take a closer look at Tweeting Too Hard. Most of the tweets on the front page aren’t just expressions of self-absorbed vanity – they’re over-the-top parodies of self-absorbed vanity. They’re deliberately produced entertainment.

And while I see a lot of tweets that read like cries for help from people who couldn’t get their parents’ attention when they were kids, I also see plenty that alert me to the fact that the writer actually has created or shared something brilliant. Or wonderful. Or just worthwhile.

Sometimes self-aggrandizing is in the eye of the beholder. I certainly hope so; I do more than my share of come-look-at-the-thing-I-just-posted tweeting. And Alex ultimately blogged her regret about the scolding tone of some of her tweets.

Maybe what’s really in order is a penetrating emotional inventory of the needs and motivations behind our self-focused conversations, about once every month or so. (Those of you who meditate regularly may increase the dosage.) Are we aiming to share something worthwhile, or just bask in a little adulation? And at the end of the day, have we contributed something meaningful to the conversation?

That said, I think Deb’s prescription is worth considering. A regular break from linking to our own stuff could be a healthy way to step back from the brink of becoming the Me Channel… not to mention an impetus to finding other voices and creations worth sharing. Or even reaching for the “@” key now and again.

More Noise to Signal.

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