You know how in ‘real life,’ people typically say things that are appropriate to the situation and actually think before they speak? Facebook is exactly the opposite of that. To quote the recent hit “The Social Network,”

“It didn’t stop you from writing it. As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared.”

People post whatever is on their mind, whether it be offensive, in poor taste, or just stupid. It’s as if the veil of anonymity prevalent in the old internet has somehow carried through to the present, even though any veil, especially on a site like Facebook, is purely imaginary. Status updates frequently contain questions as to why the other half of the population (and political spectrum) is so unintelligent, though usually in far more colorful words. Flame wars generally ensue.

And we all have the friends who want to share EVERY hill and valley of the emotional roller coaster that is their life. While I appreciate their candor, sometimes I wish people would only say things they would say to each of their friends in person.

So what does this mean for marketers and businesses? It means that people will say whats on their mind, good or bad, and that they will be honest. It doesn’t so much create new opportunities so much as it provides further evidence of what we already knew: people are going to talk about things that they experience whether you are involved or not. This might be a great or awful experience with your brand. It’s your choice whether you participate in the conversation.

This observation also made me wonder… Which way is internet culture swinging? Towards self-censorship and professionalism, or towards complete free expression and possible recklessness? What are your thoughts?

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