3/29/09

The Muhammad Ali Status Syndrome

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” is not just a statement by the great Muhammad Ali about his boxing style, but it also applies to how we update our status’ on social networking sites. One of the things that has troubled me most about the generation following me, is some of their uncanny use of status updates. Updating one’s status has become the new online competition…we have added status updates to the list of houses, cars, clothes, gadgets or anything that we envy or compete over and it’s become somewhat of an annoyance. The biggest problem is that our desire to out do one another covers a much deeper form of passive aggressiveness. It’s our desire to seem important, launching ourselves to superstar status when we have the edge on others with our updates. Status updates have become a terrible terrible addiction for some. At this point I must tell you that I myself am an addict, or at least one in recovery. I went through a period of time where I was updating my status 3-5 times daily with mindless chatter. Like Centrum and their one-a-day vitamins, I’ve now had to limit myself to one update a day. Status addiction though is just the tip of the iceberg. The Muhammad Ali Status Syndrome extends to two other key areas. It’s a two part combo punch, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The passive aggressiveness finds itself in the first part of float like a butterfly, where one pretends as though nothing is wrong. The updates are always forcibly struggled. Posting hearsay, confusion, and an essentially discombobulated mess is a direct reflection of a need for acceptance. It’s sad to see some people try so hard to get noticed. I have great compassion for these people because the desire to be accepted is so great; online social networks while providing a voice for people does not help solve any of their self-acceptance issues. The last part of this trifecta societal problem is sting like a bee. This is where a person suffering from Muhammad Ali Status Syndrome posts constant cries and pleases for attention by throwing-up their whole life on Facebook or Twitter and just like puke, it retains an acidic and putrid smell. The sting like a bee portion of the equation is the worst and not just because of the smell. It’s because there’s no sense of modesty, discretion, or un-selfishness. Stinging like a bee often goes by another name…narcissism. The sting of the bee focuses on being self-loathing, envious, insecure, and self-destructing…the ultimate crème de la crème of a bee’s sting. So what then is the solution? Some things are best kept quite. I totally believe that there is no such thing as a secret especially because of everything that I’ve been through. However, in our efforts to be connected through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, does anyone else find themselves lost in trying to stay connected rather than in authentic relationships? Sometimes I do…in fact I have friends on these sites that I don’t even know who they are! Over the past few months, I’ve realized how important my face-to-face relationships really are. I’ve become vulnerable, open, and honest, and realized that these are the people that I’m connected to. In fighting the Muhammad Ali Status Syndrome, I guess that I’ve just learned to sit this one out.

3 comments:

@MattWilsonTV said...

Justin, if you want more people to learn about you and your business, you've got to communicate as much as possible. Status updates and twitter are great ways to stay in touch and let people who you don't physically speak to all the time still know what you are up to!

Beau Suder said...

Thanks for putting what so many people feel into words, Justin. Its simultaneously necessary and frustrating to be a part of this social revolution which seems to require we sit down in front of a computer instead of in front of a friend to 'connect'. And it seems to only get worse now that you can put Facebook or Twitter in your pocket. I cant tell you how many iphones Ive almost grabbed out of people's hands and thrown while screaming, "Im right here! Put Facebook back in your pocket for a second and engage me!"
Also, good call on the status updates. The way we interact socially will undoubtedly continue to change with technology, but the need for acceptance and importance will remain unchanged regardless of the medium across which it is communicated.

Justin Steinhart said...

Hi Matt, I totally agree, I just received an update from Whole Foods about the Pistachio recall and I thought rather than an email that I probably won't read...the Twitter/Facebook message was more preferable!

Beau, thanks for the comment, you communicated in a few words what I did in too many!