Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
Anonymity might be the only path to building community in an age of corporate brand preservation.
There will soon come a day when a Twitter employee is fired for tweeting. It's inevitable, especially with the company's plans to go public. What good is IPO cash if not to scale? And what path to scale doesn't lead to robotic, letter-of-the-law beadledom?
In that light, it's just a matter of time before Twitter's original talent -- frustrated and newly minted -- cashes out of nouveau Big and gets replaced by risk-averse corporate lifers, hollow marketing types who are unapologetically and bureaucratically brand-conscious, the kind of folks who are humorless to a fault and won't see the comic irony of letting someone go for diminishing their brand.
But enough about Twitter. Let's talk about Twitter.
The problem with social media isn't the casually racist brogramming misogynist. Anyone who's fired over inappropriate tweets isn't being expunged because he's racist or sexist. He's being let go for living in 1986 -- an oblivious dumbass who doesn't understand how the Internet works or how a brand-obsessed business culture can act so quickly and decisively to remove an unsightly human blemish.
The problem with social media is that it's just new enough that the corporate world, with its authoritarian, militaristic tendencies around brand preservation, still hasn't figured out how to deal with its cartoonishly itchy trigger finger. It will take a long while for business to wisen up, to grow the thicker skin that one gets with age, to understand that your brand is not your what but your how.
In the meantime, it would be a good idea to reconcile all the social-media-driven idiot-purges in the corporate world with the noble goal of making the business world more open and connected.
The piece that follows tries to balance businesses' tendencies to be brand vigilantes with the goal of building a thoughtful and engaging business community online, a purposeful social commons that will drive the evolution of the modern corporation.
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