Having the Experience

Where people talk most about brands Which one is more important to you: Having an awesome experience, or recording and documenting it?

The new Facebook Timeline feature was no doubt created to help people record and display their experiences.

It looks more like a collection to showcase, what I call the "photo opp" in corporate political environment (being seen in the act of doing something), than social gesture.

I cannot help but think that it is going to encourage indulging the latent voyeuristic and narcissistic tendencies in people. Who, in an effort to document experiences, will possibly dilute the very moment worth savoring first.

The ticker? Let's face it, how can you be intimate with all your friends watching in the room with you? Activity as performance. Then performance as identity.

At every turn, Facebook seems to have subverted the intimacy of social experiences by turning them into public performances. Not only has the intimacy of what was once private slowly eroded into the public, but more and more of Facebook users’ online activity is being drawn into the performative identity. [Joe Moon; hat tip Gina Trapani]

We do have some of that on Twitter, of course. Thankfully, Twitter slips away the moment it's recorded. And now, with its faithful companion at its side, Klout, it encourages what I call the treadmill effect — people busily going nowhere, just to keep up.

Google+ is a great place to have those conversations and have them stored in your profile, which now you can search. Since they opened the network to the general public, new conversations and threads are populating the stream. Filling it with the interesting, if sometimes tangential, chatter of a public square, and the occasional direct message from people you don't know.

Facebook is the place that wants to keep you coming back and stay in to cultivate your image. Although you end up having no idea if they will preserve the documented narrative of your memories, nor who is recording and watching behind the scenes.

In light of this, which one is more important to you: Having an awesome experience, or recording and documenting it?


If you're a business, are pinning your hopes on people talking about your product or service, and don't know where to invest your first dollar, take heart. People still get things done face to face, by email, or by phone.


[chart: hat tip Jackie Huba]

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0 responses to “Having the Experience”

  1. This story made me thing differently about the new Facebook features. The “performance as identity” piece by Joe Moon referred to is one of the best pieces I’ve read about the real impact that may be impacting people in subtle ways they don’t yet realize. Another good pull quote from Joe’s article: “If everything I do on the web is under the public gaze, I have to reflect for a moment before I take any action — before I listen to a song, watch a video, play a game, or click on a link.”

  2. I’m inclined to agree. My interest in online reputation/presence grew out of seeing so many people actually using the internet to DO things and not being necessarily recognized for it beyond limited circles. We’d come together, share ideas, build things, problem solve, and advance whatever it was we were working on, but it was seldom the sort of thing you’d put on a resume. More and more, however, it feel like we’re simply trying to monetize activity.
    There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.

  3. Calculated and voyeuristic behavior exists in real life as well. I’ve been wondering if these are the modern rituals. The more people could (potentially) see your creations, the more thought gets put into what to display and how. Feedback (the social proofing concept) reinforcing some aspects and discouraging others…

  4. “More and more, however, it feel like we’re simply trying to monetize activity.” I wonder why commerce has come to be equated to a bad thing. When I am able to connect to things that interest me, I enjoy learning about products and services. Do you suppose it’s a matter of execution? Marketers missing the market/mark?

  5. I’m not opposed to commerce, by any means, Valeria. What bothers me is the way so many of these social outlets are looking for ways to increase digital real estate as a means to serve up more advertising.
    Rather than make something or challenge people to unite and accomplish real good in the world, we’re just out to generate more content so we can serve up advertising. I find that morally vacuous.
    Why should people be talking about your product? How has it legitimately benefited them? What reason should they have for discussing product?
    The focus should be less on enticing people to discuss mediocre, marginally improved, race-to-the-bottom GOODS, and more on delivering ridiculously valuable BETTERS which make a meaningful, positive difference in peoples’ lives.
    What’s the point of being top of the chaff pile? 😉

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