Mountain Meet Mole Hill: Sensationalism At Its Worst and We Still Share It


I have already posted about this trend today in the industry’s coverage of a relative non-event even if it actually happens, which is the buying or maybe, kinda, sorta buying of Gowalla by Facebook.

So being in the mood I was already in came across this bit of “news” from Business Insider’s founder Henry Blodget and just had to ask what are we doing? Here is a picture of the headline from yesterday and the amount of sharing that occurred around it. (Don’t be scared by the tech speak of “Facebook-Like-Stuff” either:-) ). The gist of it is that one French company is changing over from e-mail on some internal communications so it must be the end of e-mail, right?

If you want to trudge on over there and read the article go right ahead but I will help you cut to the chase by giving you this quote that ends the post

Email is still an extremely convenient way to communicate, so it’s not likely to go anywhere. But there’s no question that email is losing share of digital communications, including in the workplace. And that’s not good for companies that depend on it for their livelihoods.

Wow! Going from the bombshell of the end of the e-mail world as we know it to the fact that “Well, this is only one company and e-mail is still very important ……..”

This is a piece of sensationalistic junk and it comes from the person who started the blog which is incredibly popular. Interestingly enough, try to search for the post now and you will get a return that shows this and some updated social media sharing numbers:

Here’s the trouble. Until we stop being suckered by headlines that have nothing to do with the actual stories they “cover” and then blindly passing them along because it sounds fantastic, this is only going to get worse. Interestingly enough, just by me bringing this to your attention I serve to perpetuate it a bit but someone needs to say something (or maybe not?).

I am pleading with you to look beyond the headlines. This game that is being played to get traffic at all costs whether what is being passed around is of any value is killing the space. It’s like one large National Enquirer and we gladly perpetuate the style and technique.

If people do not become more discerning about what they see and share on the Internet then the trust in any messages from marketers (which is hard enough to get people to believe as it is!) will get more and more difficult to earn.

Social media is only as valuable as what is being shared. If we settle for blindly sharing junk then the end result will be that it will all be junk. Who wins in that scenario?

What’s your take on the state of what we share in social media? How do we get people to pay attention more? Are bots and other manure spreaders making this impossible to do? You guys have thoughts and opinions. Let’s hear them.

  • http://egoistphilosophyblog.com Keenan Steel

    I hate to get on my soapbox here, but the fact that anyone would share such a crappy article is due to our educational system. From K-12 and beyond, we’re taught to accept the facts given to us by professors and books. With the potential exception of philosophy, we’re not really taught to be skeptical about anything. We’re not taught to do the research ourselves, or decide what is important or what isn’t.

    If someone tells us that something is a BOMBSHELL, it must be. If 1,300 people Tweeted about it, there’s no doubt it’s a BIG BOMBSHELL. Take a lack of skepticism, combine it with social proof, and you can get people in most countries to believe almost anything.

    Until the way that we approach education changes, I fear that overly-sensational headlines are going to work.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Frank Reed

    @Keenan – I think the education level is just one aspect. More influential is this created need to be “the source” which is made worse by Internet sharing options. If anyone read the SAI article they would know it’s junk. I would wager a guess though that upwards of 95% of the people or bots or whatever that “shared” the post didn’t get past the first sentence.

    The pendulum will have to swing back the other way where we don’t trust ANYTHING online before we can meet in the middle where we can then discern when something is real or just done for the traffic.

    Thanks for checking in.