Let’s do an exercise where you fill in the blanks:
Social media gurus say ____________,
but I think _________________.
I see and hear this all the time and I’m going on the record to denounce this as intellectually lazy and even a bit cowardly.
Who are You Calling a Guru?
Believe it or not, when someone says social media gurus, I don’t know who the hell they’re talking about. I see a lot of diversity of thought and experience amongst people I consider guru-worthy.
I don’t think there are any closed guru meetings, or guru alliances or a guru bot that goes around infecting people involved in social media.
Yes, Intellectually Lazy…
Who says what? Prove it. Where’s the link? Can you quote or paraphrase at least? If someone really says something you disagree with, there’s probably a link to substantiate your claim and your counter position. If it’s something they said in conversation, ask them if they don’t mind whether you reference that discussion in a blog post.
Tell Us How You Really Feel
You can’t exactly pride yourself for going against the grain if you don’t call it out like you see it. Don’t fall back on the old guru say what routine. When you disagree with someone, own it. Otherwise, we’re having debates with no real substance or reference point. Maybe this goes back to my roots as a student of journalism, but this type of argument with a hypothetical group of individuals would never fly in that scenario.
I’m going to put myself to task here and tell you I started thinking about this after reading a blog post from Mitch Joel Sunday morning. I left a comment in line with the discussion on the post, but I kept mulling over the use of the “social media gurus” line and I had to come clean.
I have a lot of respect for Mitch and his work, so I’m hoping he understands where I’m coming from. I also realize he was using it as a bit of a joke – hence the quotation marks. However, I think as this space continues to grow, a lot more people are not going to necessarily understand the underlying humor.
Some may even assume he’s talking about the people at the top of their game – real community appointed experts like Beth Kanter does in this post. Her list of social media gurus includes David Armano, Rohit Bhargava, Pete Blackshaw, Chris Brogan, Todd Defren, Jason Falls and Ann Handley among a few others. There’s no sarcasm here – these are very well respected people at the top of their game.
My point in writing this is I think we can all do better. We also need to realize that we’re not just talking to each other anymore. Lumping a group of people together under the “guru” heading gives others the impression that an unnamed group of people is out of touch with my reality.
This isn’t personal. A lot of people use this type of phrase to describe a certain set of unnamed people. Some other blog posts where the phrase is used:
Biggest Mistakes Made by Social Media Gurus
Expulsion of the Social Media “Gurus” – Impacts of the Recession
SEO vs. Social Media Gurus
My point in showing other posts that use the phrase is that we’re not all using it to describe the same group of people based on an agreed-upon set of characteristics.
Some use the phrase to describe the sort of self-proclaimed carpet-bagger type “expert” who is simply hopping on the social media trend, but others use it to describe the sort of community appointed gurus or people who really know their stuff.
Plus, is it totally impossible for someone can hop on the social media bandwagon for all the wrong reasons and intentions and still end up becoming a valuable contributor in this space? I don’t think so.
When we start grouping people into the guru and non-guru category, it stops feeling like a community and a lot more like every place else in the world. Besides, despite our motivation, aren’t we all still learning?
Your Thoughts Here
I’m interested to know what you think of this. Maybe I’m way off base, but isn’t it time we learn how to respectfully disagree with enough fortitude to withstand a little conjecture on a personal level without relying on sweeping generalizations?
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