Fleeting moments seem to be becoming the norm in this world of instantaneous connections, messages, and social media feeds. 78.1% of the population is online. From shopping to cruising through YouTube videos to socializing and gaming, the engagement is a matter of flitting in and out of one thing and on to another in minutes, or even seconds. Sure, there are the 30 minute TV episodes and movie downloads that last longer, but 30 hours a week on average (40 for Millenials), is spent on tuning into conversations, pop culture, news, Twitter and Facebook feeds – and then tuning out.
While wearing my marketing executive hat, in the social media world I talk about things like “engagement” and “building communities.” This basically means that we, as marketers, are searching for loyal consumers in an environment where price is king. No longer can a brand rely on their product and retail channels for sales. Added to the mix are things like core mission statements and corporate philosophies that redefine a company as a person whom you’d welcome into your home. Where you don’t matter how much they cost because they are a welcomed guest based on more meaningful attributes than just something that ends in 98 cents. And considering many of these brands have people behind the keyboards, the connection is still wholly human, worthy of your attention, and of your loyalty.
I, for one, have never worked for a company whereby I didn’t fully believe in the product, the people, and the cause. I was proud to represent those companies in building communities that shared in my passion for what the employees were hoping to achieve – permanency in the minds of their consumer and a shared love for what they were doing. Marketing has adapted and become a truly dynamic entity in an ever-changing world; one that is characterized by fleeting moments that have been whittled down to 6 seconds on Vine, yet still extols the true value in building longterm relationships.
While wearing my writing hat, I long for moments that are much more enduring. I want someone to dive into my writings and connect for more than a few seconds. Whether reading or just living, I long for offline moments that are real, grounded, and invested. Enduring moments that are discussed eye-to-eye, with hands being shaken, life stories being swapped, and thoughts being traded and truly appreciated as a different perspective versus an annoyance. 6 seconds should be counted only if you are refilling your coffee cup with the intent of speaking with someone further or reading for another hour.
Paradoxically, as a writer, I’m still looking for engagement and to build a community. However, I seek these attributes on a deeper level that is not nearly as transitory. Loyalty needs to be earned and above all else, be personal. Through my words, I’m inviting you into my mind. To share in my beliefs, fantastical thoughts, mundane musings, high points fueled by joy, and low points punctuated with depression. To think of me not as a brand, but as a person worthy of at least a few minutes of your time.
Relationships exist on many levels and in many forms: mother/daughter, sister/brother, consumer/manufacturer, consumer/service provider, and more. Some are fleeting and some everlasting. Yet even the everlasting ones can end up being over in a fleeting moment. This saddens me as both a marketer and as a writer – and as a person. A company can do everything right, and one mishap can destroy them. A person can do everything right, and one sentence can level a wonderful friendship in a tearful blink.
In our society, we have become fleeting and fickle. We obsess over the misspoken word, the out-of-context sentence, the off-the-cuff remark, and the unpopular opinion. We obsess for exactly 6 seconds and then move on – leaving the company and person to pick up the pieces, scratch their head, and sometimes, just have a good ol’ cry. Granted, some things are unforgivable, and a we need to hold people accountable for egregious acts, but our fleeting mentality has taken us so far as to make mountains out of molehills, leaving confusion in its wake.
I’d love to see our society become less momentary and, instead, build more enduring moments. To engage and build communities – and mean it – even when times get tough. For example, to choose a 25-year friendship over a 9-word sentence. Or to weight a stellar career over the brief emergence of a very human flaw. To replace instantaneous anger towards a person, no matter how they have come into your life, with patience and forgiveness.
I challenge each and every one of you this week to invest. To turn a 6 second encounter into 6 minutes. And then to turn that 6 minutes into 60. Long enough…
- To make an impact.
- To explore a topic fully.
- To learn about a life.
- To turn a fleeting judgement into understanding.
- To support a cause or a brand.
- To read a good book.
- And to not…be fleeting at all.
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