Social media has turned us into a society of gibbering digital morons

August 19, 2016 | Phil Fersht

As someone who has profited very nicely from social media (I helped build an analyst company with blogging and social at the heart of our culture), I am probably not the most appropriate person to speak out against the negative side of social media’s impact.  But, as Gerald Ronson once famously espoused to the editor of the Guardian newspaper, “Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one”, I just can’t help myself, so I’ll give you mine…

2008 was a financial disaster fueled by greedy bankers; 2016 a political disaster fueled by social media wankers.  Opinions on politics.  My god – back in the day, people pretty much kept quiet on their views until they had some facts to back them up.  Today, they just have a bloody opinion and want to get it out there, regardless of whether they can justify it or not. When they get into an argument, they just try and shout louder, rather than listening to reason.  David Cameron has been guilty of one of the biggest political snafus of modern times, where he went to the public with a complex decision to be made.   Instead, all he succeeded in doing was allowing every opinionated idiot with a twitter account to air his or her views on society at large, until the vote become one about him and the establishment and not whether Britain should remain in the EU. (And you wonder why Hitler loved referenda…)

All social media has achieved is providing a platform for people to spout off unsubstantiated rubbish, as opposed to a collaborative opportunity for them to learn more about what’s truly going on in the world.  Then we advance to the lovely US media and the most insufferable election in history, where reality got somehow lost in a maelstrom of hype, tweets and many unsubstantiated facts that really dumb people actually believe.  All I can say is that I cannot wait for the election to be over so we can actually get back to some normalcy of running a country again.

The tech and services industry has complete lost itself in the socially-driven hype. So let’s reflect on what happened to our industry over the last couple of years.  For a while, social media was fun – we could debate the trials and tribulations of real services and real technology and how to improve ourselves.  Suddenly, the facts have got lost somewhere are we’ve arrived at this dark place where it’s more about who’s making the loudest noise than who’s talking the most sense.  Every supplier of tech and services talks up “Digital” but never defines it – with few to no clients to reference their capabilities.  They talk “automation” with little clue how to do it, with (again) no clients as reference points. Myself and my team have sat through hours and hours of deathly dull briefings where we’ve actually had analysts bemoaning the fact that the providers failed to brief them on the subject at hand.  It’s really that bad. 

The Bottom-line:  It’s time to find our way (somehow) back to reality

Let’s be brutally honest - we’ve all lost the plot.  Why are tech and service providers so obsessed with sounding the best as opposed to proving they’re the best?  Why do so many analysts and consultants just parrot each other, as opposed to having real opinions and real substantiated viewpoints?  Why have so many enterprise buyers buried their heads under the bedcovers, scared to come out until someone dared to explain to them what this new bullxxxt was all about?

It’s time to make things real again… we owe it to ourselves and our clients to talk about how buyers/end-users adopt these emerging solutions - what are they doing, which processes are being impacted, what outcomes are being achieved. We need to focus on real industry dynamics to learn why is digital so relevant to retail; omni-channel to travel; block chain to banking; cognitive to healthcare etc. We need truly to understand and articulate how today's workforce grasps these emerging concepts and drives them in practice - how can experienced professionals reorient their capabilities, and the younger generation be embraced into the workforce? What are the career progression plans in these areas?  While technologies advance, how are staff advancing (or failing to advance) with them?

Unless we really dig deep to stop using our social foghorns to spout the loudest and start focusing on being the more real, we are truly doomed to a future of increased stupidity, naiveté and confusion.  It’s time we all broke form these habits and refocused on what is really happening in the world.

Posted in: HfSResearch.com HomepageHR Strategy

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1 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Johan Schmidt
    Posted Aug 19, 2016 06:05 AM | Permalink Reply

    Phil,

    Love reading this and I have an arsehole too -:)

    Johan

  2. Pubert Piraña
    Posted Aug 19, 2016 06:21 AM | Permalink Reply

    Interesting take. Makes me want to ask if voting is just another form of spewing an opinion? Are people informed enough to back up their reasons for voting for a candidate? I guess when Obama was giving his opinions on Donald Trump, he was also saying to the 40 whatever percent voting for him that they are too ill informed (dare I say too stupid) to have a right to vote.

  3. James Curran
    Posted Aug 19, 2016 01:02 PM | Permalink Reply

    Good rant Phil and very timely with the US election! I do like how you have compared the social media lunacy with current politics with the services industry. People are simply losing touch with the facts and are more focused on sounding off these days,

    James Curran

  4. Paul Smith
    Posted Aug 19, 2016 07:14 PM | Permalink Reply

    Phil,

    Enjoyed reading this. In my view, the bite sized provision of information in social media and the increasingly limited attention span of people to absorb facts have combined to cause these problems. Am afraid "gibbering morons" is an accurate description for where we are heading!

    Paul

  5. Phil Fersht
    Posted Aug 19, 2016 11:28 PM | Permalink Reply

    @Pubert - indeed social is exposing how ill-informed many voters are. Brexit was case-in-point - many people vote on emotion, not educated facts, and this trend may be increasing, with social whipping up all sorts of emotions these days. In the past, people tended to vote for one party because they felt it "represented the common worker", or the other because it was the "educated establishement". Today, the new norm seems to be one party representating he "evil establishment that has lost touch with the people" and the other as the "revolutionary party that has anger and determination to change things". The issue being, what are these "things" and how can we "change" them... This is where we need a better tie to reality and how we can generally deal with the world.

    PF

  6. Andrew Kelly
    Posted Aug 20, 2016 05:13 AM | Permalink Reply

    Phil,

    The fact is there has been talkers forever but they never had the platform to communicate. They had their friends and co workers who got to know them and shrugged off the crap with a solid debate. Now there are all these "maddies" who all replicate the same message and if there are enough people spinning the same story they will always gain followers.

    Andrew

  7. Phil Fersht
    Posted Aug 21, 2016 02:28 AM | Permalink Reply

    @andrew - social created a platform for the legacy gibbering morons, but my biggest concern is the fact it's encouraging a whole new genre of gibbering morons to just to spout crap fueled purely by emotion and opinion (and TV media), who previously may have actually tried to make informed decisions. It's the same with technology and automation etc... people are just claiming all sorts of baloney with little to no facts and research behind it,

    PF

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