A whimsical approach to social media

There are two approaches to hiring. The first is to create a long, rigorous, exhaustive process that 1) assesses every applicant on many attributes and 2) puts them in situations of uncertainty and doubt in order to see how they respond. The alternative to this method—which we could call the “long hire”—is the “quick hire”. The “long hire” method is a drawn-out application and assessment process. The “quick hire” method is the opposite. It involves hiring fast and firing fast. It involves assimilating people quickly and outing them rapidly if it becomes apparent that the person is not right for the role or the organisation.

The assumptions underpinning each of these approaches are at odds with each other. Those who employ the “long hire” method believe that it’s possible to know the “right person” before you hire them. The organisations that employ the “quick hire” method believe that the “right person” isn’t so much found as given a chance to grow. 

Being someone who doesn’t run a multi-person company and who doesn’t work for a traditional knowledge economy organisation, these differing approaches are of intellectual, not practical curiosity. Except when it comes to social media. See, I use the “quick hire” approach when it comes to choosing who to let into my various feeds.

I used to only follow someone if I knew who they were, or if I had been exposed to and liked a large portion of their work. I’m not like that anymore. Now, I’ll follow someone because someone else re-tweeted a funny or interesting remark they made. I’ll follow someone because they say something I don’t necessarily agree with. I’ll follow someone because they work in a field or discipline I have no clue about. And I un-follow just as whimsically. If someone starts to bore me (which may not be their fault) I chuck ‘em. If someone says something really, really stupid, or starts acting like a moron, they’re out.

But notice that I’ve been saying “someone”. Alongside my “quick hire, quick fire” social media policy, I have another: people, not brands.

Brands are not human. They have a story and to maintain it they have to stick to their schtick, regardless. Which means that brands that put out articles and features and posts typically put out things that are in line with the brand’s own philosophy. Yawn. Hence why I don’t follow brands; they’re not as interesting as people.

People can contradict themselves. People can say outrageous things with minimal fear. People can joke and make sarcastic comments. People can be honest, apologise and be independent. Brands can’t. You won’t find a brand taking potshots at Trump. You won’t find a brand calling a scientist on their B.S. research and its false findings. You won’t find a brand sharing stories from a Reddit AMA that involves embarrassing anecdotes about masturbation. So I populate my feeds with people, instead of brands. And if I do follow brands, it is only because they occasionally lead me to discover new and intriguing humans.