Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Empire Avenue Shines A Light On The Dark Side Of Social Media

Al Pacino, in the movie The Devil’s Advocate said, “Vanity is definitely my favorite sin. Self-love, the all-natural opiate.”  He’s right.  Today we have so many tools and platforms, many of them free, that lets us have not only a voice, but a means to distribute, share and syndicate that voice.  The problem is that many of us seem to think that just because we have a platform and a voice that we are now worth listening to…and ultimately rock stars in our own mind.

I’ve argued often that social “media” has created a clear class system where the “elite” simply exist to pat themselves on the back and rarely, if at all, hold each other accountable.  I challenge you to find a situation where a social “elite” has openly disagreed with another.  Good luck.  You might find the needle in the haystack, but that’s exactly what it is…an exception to the rule.  This could only be happening for one of two reasons:

  1. All of these people think alike, in which case, we’re doomed by narrow minded thinking and a lack of progressive thought leadership.
  2. The culture of the elite is to simply nod your head, pat one another on the back and never rock the boat.

I lean toward #2.

Enter Empire Avenue, the latest social networking platform to grace the web.  What is it you ask?  Well, in their own words:

Empire Avenue is the Social Media Exchange, where you can buy and sell shares in any social media profile, meet new people, unlock Achievement badges, and earn boatloads of virtual cash by being active and social online! Buy shares in your friends, your followers, people with similar interests, brands you love, celebrities – anyone! All using a virtual currency and all for free!

The first half of the description is really all you need to know.  Have we jumped the shark?  We’re now treating people like stocks, where we can buy, trade and sell shares in them?  Needless to say the social media elite club believe this is the next best thing since FlipBoard (by the way how is that colossal failure doing?) or Google Wave (I’ll withhold my laughing).

Empire Avenue, is exactly what’s wrong with the industry at the moment.  We have an environment, akin to high school culture, where the elite stick together, rarely let the non-elite in (well unless you’re a client, with money) and create systems that allow for the perpetuation of ego building.  Do you think Jeremiah Owyang will ever “downgrade” Robert Scoble’s stock?  Not gonna happen.  Let’s treat this like the stock market…what we’re going to see is an over-valuation of people’s social media stock, that’s reminiscent of the dot-com bubble and Enron, because the elite will simply inflate one another’s stock.  That’s not a free market.  That’s not a stock market.  That’s a popularity contest.

Clearly, I have a specific point of view.  And, let’s be honest, one that generally runs contrary to the social media elite.  However, unlike them, I’m open to alternate points of view.  Scott Monty does a great job of explaining the platform, offers his perspective on why some people are flocking to it and outlines some of the bigger implications.  Though I’m nowhere near as bullish as he is about Empire Avenue, I think Scott does a great job of breaking it all down and giving us a reason to consider why Empire Avenue could find a niche.

I think I’m just tired of the vanity that’s in social media.  If social media is supposed to be about connected with people, sharing, being authentic, helping, and all these other esoteric and good natured concepts, why do we keep creating, perpetuating an investing the culture that runs counter to all of that?