There’s this guy. He’s become very popular in the “social business” space. He annoys the crap out of me. He tweets nothing unique, mainly just quotes and platitudes of the type that are very retweetable. He writes nothing original, mainly just articles geared to appeal to the masses but without much actual substance.
He has a PR mission for the company he works for, to become known and by proxy make his company be perceived as a social business. He preaches authenticity and transparency but then has all of the employee Twitter accounts set to automatically tweet links to his posts and retweet him. The PR machine gets him onto the right lists, the right panels, the right interviews, the right blogs. They create progressive stunts to get attention.
Why does this bother me so much?
Am I jealous of that attention? I can honestly say “no” to that. What does bother me is that people buy it. Hook, line, and sinker.
It seems crazy to me that someone who has actually done very little for his company in regards to actual change, or even progressive thought for that matter, can become a leading voice for the movement of which I’m a part. It makes me feel like the things that actually matter to me, like the hard work of organizational transformation, are being belittled or devalued.
But here’s the thing. I tend to analyze the things that annoy me, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’m wrong about this “charlatan” view that I have.
First off, by all accounts he is a nice guy. People I know and trust seem to like him at least.
Second, there’s no question that this is an “inauthentic” approach, but maybe this is one of those situations where if you say something loud enough, and long enough, you begin to create change by the very fact that you then are forced to become the thing that you say you already are … or risk exposure? The whole “fake it till you make it” thing?
Is faking it OK?
Is there value in that? Am I being too harsh in my judgment of this guy and others like him? Sure, he seems more concerned about image than reality at the moment, but maybe that will help to create a better reality later on?
I’ll never be in love with this approach, and yes it will probably always annoy me when people value what I consider the “wrong” things in this profession. But that’s just life, and I can’t apply my own values to everyone else. It can’t be my mission to be the white knight out there trying to protect the masses from the snake oil. There are already plenty of those people out there and frankly I find them just as annoying. Let’s face it, even this post it can be taken as a form of condescension and elitism. “I’m smarter than you so let me warn you away from your own stupidity”.
The bottom line is that there are things that I wish didn’t work. There are things that make me question my own values and what I’m willing to sacrifice in the name of “success.”
Cognitive dissonance is a bitch, isn’t it? What are your thoughts on the subject?