The Social Media Prefix

the social media prefix

In light of Movember ending yesterday many of the people I know who participated, felt the spontaneous urge to shave their facial hair back to something a little, shall we say, less distracting and cleaner.

In the spirit of trimming back that which has grown potentially beyond its original form (no, not just ‘staches), I thought this would be a great opportunity to briefly explore something that’s been gnawing on my mind for the last couple months. In fact ever since our VP of Digital Strategy & Innovation, Ian Barnett, gave an engaging talk on digital trends and social platforms where he casually implanted a number of compelling ideas into my head. Since then I’ve had this reoccurring preoccupation with the concept of less being more, not only in the design and creative context, but in everything around us, as a model for removing unnecessary things from our lives.

Remember the scene in the movie The Social Network, when Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) turns to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as he’s leaving the restaurant and says, “Drop the ‘the’. Just ‘Facebook’. It’s cleaner.”

Sure, Zuck was a impressionable after a few appletinis, but seems obvious now doesn’t it? By the same token, lately, I like the idea of dropping the ‘media’ from social media and just calling it for what it is: social.

Hmm…because social touches us all, it’s everywhere and in everything now (mainly because of the Web) and I tend to agree with Scott Berkun when he says:

“Social media is a stupid term. Is there any anti-social media out there? Of course not. All media, by definition, is social in some way. The term interactive media, a more accurate term for what’s going on, lived out its own rise / hype / boom cycle years ago and was smartly ignored this time around.”

So just call it media—no need to imply there’s a social pretence now magically governing mass media. In fact, it almost feels redundant to use the word ‘social’ as a prefix when referring to things such as networks, platforms, technologies, and marketing—oh, but isn’t all marketing social now? Yeah, we get it (and it goes without saying), social dynamics permeate business and cultural institutions—always have—always will. Social is ubiquitous to the point one could liken it to the air we breathe, or even the overwhelming pervasiveness of Helvetica.

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