Two Things You Need to Know from This Post:
- Social media helps people live, work, and play with each other (no matter the distance) by combining age-old ways of social interaction and the capabilities of mass media.
- You can create transformational change when you use the antennas on the mountaintop to provide a common message and inspire the people in the valleys to interact, spread, customize, and amplify your message.
A More Detailed Exploration:
We have always lived, worked, and played with each other. For most of our history, we did all this in small groups. These groups grew, spreading out across great distances and having great obstacles between us. As our technology has advanced, so has our ability to live, work, and play with others – both near and far away.
Because we really only lived, worked, and played with those who were physically close to us, we didn’t know that much about those far away. Information was shared in person and in writing and spread slowly and unevenly.
Those who travelled amongst these groups were very valuable and great curiosities. Their stories and tales fascinated us. And connected us to the wider world.
But this era had its limits:
- It took time for these stories to spread, sometimes too late
- Other times, the story was different than when it started
- Probably most significantly, these groups were often isolated and disconnected
The first time someone climbed out of the valley to the top of the mountain and built an antenna; things changed dramatically. This antenna could broadcast and receive information and images to (and from) far away places. Bringing the world to us.
These antennas came in many different forms: literal radio & TV antennas, corporate enterprises, large-scale non-profits & associations, and other highly-centralized human networks. Each requiring significant overhead costs and concentrations of capital – financial, physical, and social.
But this era had its limits, too:
- It took a lot of money, work, and resources to build and maintain these antennas
- Because there were only so many antennas, they were only so many choices
- You couldn’t talk back to what was being broadcast
- You couldn’t talk with others about what was being broadcast when it was ‘on the air’
Slowly and steadily, we began to lay cables around the world connecting these groups of people. First these cables let us talk to each other directly one-to-one and in small groups. Then, we began to use these cables to share images and sound.
This changed everything…again – making it easier for us to find information and people faster. But it was still static and one-way. And we needed to know complex languages to make the images and sounds do what we wanted.
When we realized we could build tools that made it easy for anyone to create images and sounds in the way they wanted, this changed everything…yet again. People from across great distances could live, work, and play together without needing the antennas.
The focus shifted away from what was being sent from the mountaintop and back to what was happening in the valley – but in a different way. A person in one place can connect with people in different groups and valleys, who they previously would’ve never known about.
And even this era has its issues:
- Many people still are trying to figure out how they need to change
- Some think the antennas don’t matter anymore
- Others try to use the tools like they’re broadcast media, pushing their images & sounds out in a one-way monologue with no interest in ongoing conversation
- The rest don’t even realize things have changed
Succeed by Bringing the Mountaintop & Valleys Together
But, you and I know know better. You and I know the power is bringing what’s on the mountaintop together with what’s going on in the valley. We can harness the power of a common, real-time experience of mass media with the self-organizing potential of social media to help us achieve our aspirational objectives.
We realize it doesn’t matter if change starts in the valley or on the mountaintop. It just matters that someone creates the plan to develop a compelling message, make it easy to share that message, and bring the leaders from different mountaintops and valleys together.
Enough of My Thoughts, What Do You Think?
Does this model give you a better understanding of social media? If not, how would you improve it? Does success really come from bringing the mountaintop and valley together? What other ways can you succeed?
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