A few years ago when I was Community Manager for a popular online community, the owner and I disagreed regarding the value of Twitter. He wrote it off as a bunch of noise. In fact he wrote off most of social media as a bunch of noise. I soon learned though, that it wasn’t that there was a lot of noise but, rather, he didn’t know what to do with it. The more he embraced social media, the less noisy it seemed. Thus, I’d like to submit that folks who complain about social media noise perhaps aren’t using it to their full potential.
Let’s explore this “noise” thing. I’m sure that when using the term “noise” to describe social media, many are referring to annoying noises such as jackhammers and weed wackers. Though for argument’s sake, I’ll also say that annoying is in the ear of the beholder and there are even those who enjoy hearing a weed wacker on a Saturday morning. (For the record, I’m not one of them.) But this is a post about why noise is good, and we’ll leave the weed wacker in the shed for today.
Let’s consider some of these noises:
- Murmuring’s of a loved one
- A cat purring
- Reading aloud
- Waves upon a shore
Noise doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. While we all have our moments where we want quiet, I think many of us embrace noise. Think about it: Favorite songs trigger memories and voices or laughter make us smile. Despite moments of being frazzled or needing quiet for rest, we like noise. That’s why I’m suprised when folks read or hear about something being “noise” and write it off as a negative thing.
What does this all mean?
Obviously I’m writing a reactionary post based on other discussions referring to social media as “noise.” I think we all tend to read something like that and readily accept noise as a bad thing. The next time someone dismisses Twitter or Foursquare as a bunch of useless noise, suggesting you don’t get so social and instead get all exclusionary and cliquey, consider what the word “noise” means to you. One person may have a low tolerance for noise, but this doesn’t mean everyone does.
We make our own noise. It’s the reason why some parents can put up with a child’s wailing on a drumset from the basement, when others won’t let a set of drums into the house. It’s why some us enjoy loud rock and roll and others go easy listening. Noise is only a bad thing if you allow it to have that connotation.
If you embrace the noises in your life, you might find that many of them aren’t so unpleasant. For example. that bird outside your window might not be exactly what you want to hear at 5:30 a.m. while you’re trying to sleep. However, three hours later, it’s just the ticket when you’re enjoying that first cup of coffee from the solitude of your back deck.
Noise can work for you, even social media noise. Instead of looking around Twitter and thinking there are too many people, look at it as a party where you will meet people as time progresses. Some of those people will become acquaintances, some good friends, and some you may do business with. If you sat in the corner writing them all off as noise, you probably wouldn’t have made so many important connections.
The next time someone writes off social media as noise, consider your favorite noises and what they mean to you. Maybe there’s something to it after all?