Over the past year or so I’ve noticed that people have tended to react to me as a social media type in one of two distinct ways.
One is the school of thought which thinks that, because I run a blog and have worked in social media, they know nothing about it and I know everything. This is not true. They probably do know something, and I definitely don’t know everything.
The other is of the belief that, because they have pet tools or techniques that they like to use, and which I might not know about, this means I’m at fault because I didn’t know about them. The truth is usually that I do know of other tools, just not those particular tools. In other words, they definitely know something about social media, but I probably know more than them.
The unfortunate corollary (love that word) is:
“I don’t know everything, but I know more than you.”
This is understandably a bit pointed, and while it’s most likely true, no one really likes to hear it. I know, because I’ve said it, to decidedly black looks. Let’s temper it a little:
“I don’t know everything, but I probably know more than you.”
This repositions the statement, allowing for the possibility that you’re more of an oddball than me.
The problem still lies however in that it’s a bit negative, on the behalf of both subject (me) and object (you). It’s the social media equivalent of the dreadful ‘Back to Basics’ line of the Conservatives circa mid-1990. Here’s an attempt at a more positive spin:
“You probably know more than you realise, and I’d like to know more about it.”
This places emphasis on you – that is, it’s not quite as egotistical/neurotic on my behalf, and implies some sort of process of learning. It definitely doesn’t mean that I probably do know more than you, and it probably means that you definitely might know something, while implicitly acknowledging that I definitely don’t know everything and you possibly know less than me. It also echoes Barack Obama’s sentiment of wanting to listen, and I’d choose Obama over Major any day (or even Sir Humphrey).
It’s also infuriatingly close to something a psychotherapist might say while leaning forward unnecessarily close so you can see his (or her) nasal hair.
However, there is another way. You can sit still, listen to that little voice deep within you, that wisdom that seems to come to you from the movements of the planets around you and the race memory of ages gone by, and, as I did, come up with the alternative:
“Sod this, I’m going to be a copywriter instead.”
This is what is known as the Cooper Shimmy and if you find working in social media starts to mess with your mind, you might want to consider something similar. But not copywriting, obviously, because the fewer competitors I have the better.
And if you want to tweet that, tweet this:
Brendan Cooper on what he probably definitely does, and does not, know. Probably. http://bit.ly/uWbjh