Why You’re a Social Media Douche

Informal poll: How interesting are your friends’ Facebook pages?

Let’s try an experiment. Compare your “real” friends’ Facebook pages to those that belong to the social media douches in your network (you know who they are). I’m going to bet that your normal friends have far more interesting, diverse pages that contain actual conversation, jokes, and the like, while the douches’ pages are filled with @ replies and retweets. Am I right?

It’s also my guess that, the more your wall is filled with these douches, the more of a douche you are yourself. Your network is people who are tied to you in a weak way, offer little in terms of real friendship, and won’t help you move your couch.

What matters in any conversational space is that there is not just the veneer of participation, but the real thing. Like when someone isn’t really listening in a conversation– it may convince you at first, but eventually you can begin to tell. You’re adding to their conversations, but they’re not adding to yours. Feel familiar?

A lot of what we do online is phoning it in– we’re trying to leverage too much, and it results in sending out messages that are inappropriate to the venue, that annoy, etc. It’s like the separation between means of production and consumption; you get none of the results of actual engagement. In the end you don’t actually get to enjoy what you’re doing.

You may not think so, but you probably do it too. And what’s interesting about this is that we often need to decide who we’re trying to speak to: the normal users of a network, or the power users (douches) who are having a massively disproportionate number of the “conversations.” As we try to impress more of the latter, our actual friends lose the ability to understand us.

I associate this with the complaints people commonly have about SEO. Like people writing for machines instead of humans, the douches seem to have lost sight of the fact that they need to convert people along the way, instead of piss them off. Start spreading your conversations too wide and you’re talking everywhere, and you really end up speaking to no one at all.

The real method still seems to be to engage people in proper conversation, which requires actual attention. We need to have our eyes on the prize, sure, but if we’re not at least faking humanity across the way, we’re not going to get a lot of places. What goal is it to get 100,000 friends/followers if they don’t really believe in anything we say?

BTW, quality of engagement also comes from quality of followers. If I DM people directly after they add me, those that keep following me will be the morons, and along the way, I’m losing the power users. The sneezers vanish, and I’m just adding the lowest common denominator to my client base. Then again, the lowest common denominator does tend to be profitable, so maybe that’s the right way. I don’t know.

Isn’t it bizarre that those who successfully reach the masses are heavily rewarded by popularity, but they impress themselves less and less along the way?

So here’s the real question. Would you rather do great work in obscurity– or would you lower the quality of what you do to impress more people? Killah Priest is an incredible, complex rapper that talks about ancient Sumeria and Babylon; you probably don’t know his from Adam. Jay-Z, on the other hand, did the latter. Now he’s called the greatest rapper alive.

So? Which are you?





19 responses to “Why You’re a Social Media Douche”

  1. Amanda Avatar

    A lot of people judge success on how renowned a person is. I think the association comes with the connection of great people doing GREAT (huge impact) things. The assumption is that if someone does something great, then the whole world will notice the benefit.

    Of course, this isn’t the case. I know so many people who do what they can and really make an impact in people’s lives, but are quite obscure.

  2. Jusitn Avatar

    The great thing about you is that sometimes you drop some of these basic instructions before leaving earth and tie it Jay-Z vs. Jay Dee. For that alone I pay attention.

  3. Dave Doolin Avatar



    There’s more to rap than complexity. Great has more than one meaning. Context matters. We all have an opinion, whose is more important?

    A long time ago, your patron determined the marketability of your work.

    Now, the masses determine it.

    What’s the difference?

  4. Marcus Couch Avatar

    I needed to hear this shit today. A-Fucking-Men dude.

  5. Don Martelli Avatar
    Don Martelli

    Good post. Props for the KP and Jay Z analogy. You are dead on. Love it.

  6. Ian M Rountree Avatar

    Honestly, I’d rather be that dude who shows up at CES or LeWeb in a few years, gives a killer speech, and leaves half the attendees wondering “Who the hell was THAT” while the people who matter (read as; the people who I’ve actually connected with) just smile and nod.

    I admit that’s probably a bizarre scenario, as getting on stage requires a certain notoriety, I just think it’d be fun to upset the norms. Play the good example of the power of the right super-fans versus having everyone as a disengaged follower.

  7. Mel Avatar

    I still can’t figure out what the heck the point of a retweet is.

  8. Jon burg Avatar
    Jon burg

    Wow. As an admitted social obssesive on Twitter, I can learn a lot. This is why my facebook is more private and more fun. There’s nothing wrong w networking and building ones profesional network but it does look and feel douchy when you never come across as a real person. Ironic how ppl trying to build brand personalities don’t seem to have any of their own.

  9. Liz Avatar

    You say douches offer a lot of @replies but that is the basis for having a conversation…directing your response to someone who said something interesting.

    You paint a black & white, good guy-bad guy, either/or situation. The polarities are the extremes, not the way most people use Twitter. In this case, I think middle of the road, a balance of sharing information & personal interaction, is the way to go.

    There are a variety of ways one can use a social network. Don’t follow those who use it in a crass way & try not to be annoyed at their popularity.

  10. Eric Avatar

    Great post. People are running away with this numbers game of social media. We are way overdue for a correction in this market when people figure out that the number of friends/followers doesnt matter in itself. What matters is how you turn that into an advantage for your company, blog, etc. The people who are thinking about that now are the ones who will emerge from the hype.

  11. Jen Avatar

    Awesome. Absolutely needed to be said. I needed to hear it. Thank you!

  12. mattdollinger Avatar


    Nice work on actually saying what so many people (good people – non douchie douches) think and doing so in a non-douchie way.

    That being said… the thing that you nail on the head is this, “we’re trying to leverage too much, and it results in sending out messages that are inappropriate to the venue, that annoy, etc.”

    Not only are we (I’m speaking broad term – as in the collective) trying to say too much to too many, but we are actually watering-down our effectiveness. We aren’t becoming “experts” on any topics, we are trying to be “gods of knowledge” attempting to impress the masses.

    Whether you call it “niche” “specialty” or “expertise” – we need to become trusted advisors to our clients, our networks, and all of those around us. Thanks for calling attention to this and putting in ALL of our faces.

  13. Jessica Avatar

    I love this post. The thing I have to add to your list is the morons that tweet “I only need 28 more followers to reach 1,000!” or “It’s been like forever since I’ve been on Twitter”…and yet it’s only been 6 hours. Ick.

  14. Dave Avatar

    #1 I think people who use the word douche all the time are lame. That was a fun adjective until it was mainstreamed. Now it is, well to use your term, douchey. #2 Proofread. Grammar mistakes are cred killers. #3 Other than that, good thinking/nice post.

  15. Jean Avatar

    New motto (which, considering my chosen field, should have been the old motto): “Do great work in obscurity.”

  16. Bill Cammack Avatar

    Excellent points, Julien. 🙂

    Unfortunately, the ability to switch between engaging enough to eventually sell a product and actually interacting with people that you would like to have a drink with IRL requires that person to have that type of “IRL drink” personality to begin with.

    This leaves the non-gregarious businessperson without material.. without interest in whether you graduated from school or met someone new at a conference or sold your startup.

    The best you can get from someone like that is feigned interest, if they even bother to play it off that they’re interacting with you for anything other than business purposes.

    Little do they know that you’re actually right.. The value here is found in proper engagement with a quality (read: curated) audience. While it’s obvious to us that they’re shilling, because we know a lot of people that do both, they think they’re authentically interacting because they’re just as fake IRL as their online presentation suggests.

  17. Social Douche Avatar

    Narcissism is alive and well in today’s digital culture. It appears http://www.socialdouche.com is making an attempt at policing social networks and beyond.

  18. homiegot Avatar

    A douche is as a douche does.

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