Social Media is NOT MEDIA AT ALL

I’m amazed I haven’t really considered this before, but what we all call Social Media is actually the exact opposite of media.

Derivation of the word Media: Latin: medium is the neuter form of the adjective medius, meaning “middle”; as well as, a neuter noun meaning, “the middle”

The singular, medium, early developed the meaning “an intervening agency, means, or instrument” and was first applied to newspapers two centuries ago.

Conversely, “Social Media” is a set of tools for people to communicate between themselves, platforms for interaction and relationships, not content and ads.

What do these social tools (Facebook etc) do?

They disinterMEDIAte of course!

“Who said this is media? Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant. … We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”
Ted McConnell, General Manager-Interactive Marketing and Innovation at Procter & Gamble Co

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8 thoughts on “Social Media is NOT MEDIA AT ALL

  1. Jussi-Pekka says:

    The only problem with this tool-centric approach is that it simplifies social media from a phenomenon to set of technologies, platforms and tools, genres of social media. By doing this we forget the cultural aspects of these new form and ways of communication.

    This is the same thing if you would say that media is only set of different technologies, publications and channels, e.g. mobile phone, TV, CD and newspaper, but media is also a societal actor. Media has been described to be also a practice, message and a space between culture and technology.

    Maybe we should talk about social software when we want to discuss about the tools. There are also other words to describe the phenomenon that social media tries to explain, e.g. social web, participatory media, peer media, communal media, etc.

    We still need to remember that interaction in social media is always mediated communication.

    My definition can be found here

  2. hi JP!

    interaction in social media is hardly mediated at all – that’s the change we should be interested in and what is changing the culture.

    Which is why talking about this as media per se is unhelpful.

    social software is also a bad phrase as it makes it sound technical – actually of course blogging software removed the need for technical knowledge which is also an important factor.

    “social tools” is good, because it reminds us that tools help people *do* something: in this case be social!

    and then we can all move on from being concerned with this and focus on *people* again 🙂

  3. Jussi-Pekka says:

    Interaction is always mediated if there is a medium carrying the messages. Computer-mediated communications is mediated per se.

    Nevertheless there are plenty of studies that state that people can interact and build relationships online, just like through unmediated communication like face-to-face discussion. Of course there are some differences when it comes to nonverbal communications and feeling of intimacy, but there are some benefits also like possibility for hyperpersonality, which can speed up the relationship building.

    We should always keep in mind that social media is about people and interaction between them. It is not about platform, different types of media or technologies. It is about doing and communicating together, like you said.

    But I guess that we agree here and this starts to be a bit too academic from my side at least 😉

  4. Helge Tennø says:

    I’ve found Kevin Slavins introduction (on this panel) quite helpful in regards to your statement Daniel:

    “The relationship between media and social media is like the relationship between egg and eggplant: They share a couple of the same letters, but they are not in the same taxonomy.”

    from here:

    Slavin continues:

    “…That it’s a fundamentally different experience.

    And that it used to be when you where storytelling, that what you were competing for attention against where other stories. It’s sort of a story competition.

    And the attention we are competing for now is the attention to each other.

    That basically what we are doing during the day these days is spending more and more time, deeper and deeper connected to each other. And that’s very difficult to displace through storytelling in the conventional sense of storytelling. And I think its important to figure out how to think about narratives as systems that can engage that, and can sort of work within that type of attention rather than to pull away from that exclusively.”


  5. dagood says:

    Love that comment Helge 🙂

  6. faris says:

    yep. i attempt to dismantle the expression in this video thing


  7. dagood says:


    thanks mate.

    as you say in the video, i think the key problem is that the phrase Social Media (particularly the Media bit, imo) is “unhelpful”, in that it is too easy to misappropriate by desperate, old-skool marketing peeps.

  8. […] Right, so now I’m glad that we all agree that there is no such thing as social media. […]

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