A while back, it had to have been 2005 now that I think about it, I sat preparing a briefing to executives about this emerging social media stuff. By the way, my then business partner Gary Goldhammer and I never really liked the term social media. We were slaving away in the back room trying to change that language landscape before it stuck, but it took root, so we go with it. Anyway, you know the sort of presentation I’m talking about: the why, what does it mean, should I bother kind of questions that we’re still pretty much pondering, years later.
I conjured up a story to tell rather than going the popular “social media or die” or “get aboard the Cluetrain (Manifesto)” (which I will love for all eternity) or the “do it or be shamed, Stupid” route. I’m not really a hyperbolic kind of gal.
My story began with a second of silence (to respect what came next) and then I began quietly, ”Something has changed.” [Roll images: 2005 London bombings.]
In images and tale we guided the room toward the quiet awe, or at least reluctant respect, that resulted. You could do that in 2005.
This was a tale about people reaching out and connecting to each other, desperately needing to feel alive in that moment – and they had a way. They had a channel in their hands, a thread around their fingertips.
It was a moment in which these people held up for us a tiny picture frame. If we cared to look deeply enough, milky and a little fuzzy, there was Us today. We were experiencing a different way of seeing.
It was moving. It was thrilling. It was inspiring. It was overwhelming. And it still is.
If, that is, you get outside the mechanics and the data and the devices and look at The People – using ever more far-reaching channels to touch each other, find each other, join together, be seen.
The talk ended with a simple truth: “it’s sociology, not technology.”
To this day, Gary makes fun of me, mimicking my particular way of telling of our tale. We laugh and each shake our head and shrug at our 2005 selves. Secretly, I wonder if it is our code for, our moment of, connecting with the truth. If this is a way we remind ourselves to stay in that truth while going about our client’s work.
I doubt he knows it still moves me.