The Pied Piper Syndrome in Social Media

Does More Technology Get In The Way of "Social Networking?"

Jul 27, 2011 by

Social media experts proclaim something or someone is brilliant or amazing (Cue in Bruno Mars!) and we all chime in to agree enthusiastically.  God forbid you do not agree with the social media gurus.  Spell dead career.  Or, worse, vicious attacks from their acolytes for daring to disagree with the founding fathers and mothers of social media.  Have you ever tried to disagree with their articles?  You have?  In that case, I certainly hope you’re in the witness protection program.

Like any other marketing professional – OF COURSE, I read them.  Most of the time, I nod my head in agreement.  But there are just times that I cannot agree with what is being posted.  Those rare moments when I wonder if they wrote their posts while under the influence of too many glazed doughnuts.  But then, I see all the enthusiastic comments that would put the Thesaurus to shame and I begin to question my own intellect and eyesight.

For instance, infographics.  They’re not for everyone.  They certainly aren’t for me and my Four Eyes.  But, everyone raves about them so, naturally, I find myself agreeing just as spiritedly.  And I post and retweet like the Energizer Bunny on steroids.  After all – OHMYGED!  I’m the only who’s not retweeting and reposting it!!!  What is wrong with me?!  Never mind that I cannot explain the thing to rebels even if they tortured me.  Guy Kawasaki posted it, so help me God so shall I.

Of course, there are many who disagree but their numbers pale in comparison to the multitude eating bread and fish from social media heaven.  It is not a good feeling when you want to disagree with a blog post on Harvard Business Review and all 250 comments are singing high praises to the blog writer.  I find myself slinking away to my favorite drugstore and demanding a refund for the cough syrup I bought.

I’m sure these social media experts do not intend for their readers to absorb their posts like mindless robots.  Some may have ego issues but I’d like to believe that, in general, most of them will not incite a call to arms just because there are those who disagree with them.  It’s just that the comments I’ve seen on some articles lately made me wonder:

Are we now the new citizens of Hamelin?  How did we lose the child in us that had the courage to say, “The emperor has too many keyboards”?

Have you ever noticed how, on certain publications like Forbes, the comments often try too hard to be intellectual?  It is Forbes, after all.  You do not want to simply say “great article” on a Jeremiah Owyang post.  You will brew a fresh cup of coffee and with Webster’s on hand, you will compose a 5-sentence comment worthy of a Pulitzer.  Somewhere in those 5 sentences, the word “strategic” must present itself like in a Ms. Universe beauty pageant.  “Good Evening, I’m Candidate #2 representing the Island of Strategy where all inhabitants are strategically positioned!”

This is what marketing and personal branding has done to us.  He or she is a known marketing brand, ergo, his or her words are gospel truth.  Good thing this is not the Vatican because, then, we’d have too many popes and that would just be messy.

I miss the days when social media was relatively new and social media guru was an unheard of title.  Even while egos were running all over the place, the discussions were always spontaneous.  It was a very Magellan-meets-Christopher Columbus era.

Now, there are just way too many pied piers and I don’t know that I’d enjoy being stuck inside a mountain for all eternity.

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  1. @SteveBarnesUSA thanx for the tweet <3. glad you enjoyed @sunnyc’s post ~ the pied piper syndrome # socialmedia

  2. Interesting stuff Sunny. However, you can’t stand back and lament something someone says and then not be compelled to complain or state your case and worry about what others have to say. I’ve done it often enough because I refuse to agree with anything I just can’t support. And I’ll have my say and move on. In actuality, what I find most of the time is that when I make my statement, others suddenly start to follow along. Sure, it might not end up being 50-50 but sometimes people are just afraid to be the first to offer a real comment that goes against the grain.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mitch. Thank you for visiting as well.

    • What’s interesting, is that once an assertion has been swept through the many social avenues, the burden of disproof is then upon the internet community. The people’s accurate understanding of information is at the mercy of professionals who do not stand sentinel to strike down false information. This is a ugly and very real side of social media.

      I suppose, that in one form or another, this phenomenon has always been a part of information sharing. It was easier to keep under control when there was a greater barrier to enter into sharing opinions. Now with the “rise of social media,” every person has a Facebook audience, the ability to contribute thoughts into the bucket of thoughts that Twitter is, the ability to chronicle their ideas with WordPress, and their own publishing standards.

      The internet gave everyone a voice ( Sometimes even reputable people and organizations publish sensational and inaccurate information (

      The rise of “social media” exacerbates this phenomenon and peoples hunger for information doesn’t help but compound it either. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.

      • Thanks for the comment, Sean. I think that as people eventually get to manage their fascination for this accessibility to “stardom”, information and knowledge sharing will be a bit more responsible. As the internet’s ability to provide instant fame (or notoriety, whichever side one is standing on) becomes something people get used to, users will become accountable for what they put out there. But for now, when the ordinary user is fascinated by the idea that he can become “famous” by acquiring followers and fans by just posting something that catches attention, irresponsible and unaccountable posting and commenting will continue.

  3. MY ARTICLE on @atsgf: The Pied Piper Syndrome in Social Media – #atsgf #socialmedia

  4. MY ARTICLE on #atsgf: The Pied Pier Syndrome in Social Media – via @atsgf

  5. Thanks for saying this.

  6. The Pied Piper Syndrome In Social Media: I wrote this for All The Single Girlfriends. My ego needs a tiny bit of…

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