During discussion in my media & reality class last week, I learned of and been thinking about the concept of two classes of social media citizenry emerging – those who keep their reputations online clean and those who don’t.
Of the those with a clean reputation, there are those who flourish online as communicators and those don’t.
Of those who do excel in this medium, there are those who digitally represent brands and personas.
These are trusted and valuable to an organization, as they are closest to the identity machinery, are typically not an owner but an employee, and yet trusted with it. This reminded me of Eunuchs, castrated to serve as of class of slaves or servants throughout history. They too were trusted in the most intimate and public environments as the thinking was that, among other presumed losses of particular desires, there would be the lack of ambition.
I’m thinking of that person who dropped their pants or posted something in passion or conflict. The Social Eunuch would never do that – so you can trust them.
I mulled in an earlier post about how it seems better to not have a presence online at all for some. Some politicians and organizations now wish they weren’t. So the next best thing is to have a replaceable, dependable and (at least as an online footprint) completely unremarkable person as your social media lead. This is the Social Eunuch and is perhaps has emerged as the most valuable class of online citizenry today. The stereotype of our historical notions of the personality traits typical of a Eunuch lends itself to a Social Eunuch’s presumed virtues of no desire for sex, no ambition, docile and dependable. This lends itself to a standard of reputable online presence free of sex scandals, criminal accusations and no desire for online conflict like being snarky to a competitor or critic.
Eunuch’s were considered easy to replace – so is the employee who tweets out something racist or sexist. First impressions are very important on social media so if suddenly a lot of people notice your social media profile online because of a bad or embarrassing behaviour, then that is your first and lasting impression unless you become immediately and permanently bland and unremarkable. This is strategically attainable to middle class citizens by never appearing publicly on Social Media again - and thus castrating yourself from your shameful extension.
For a brand, the only hope is to acknowledge a distinct personality was associated with the brand. Little he/she had a mind of their own and are now cut from the team.
To achieve Social Eunuchism:
- Hire someone who does not have an online presence or has a very careful, minimal and unremarkable online presence.
- Person(s) anonymized when acting as the brand voice or the person(s) are identified as persons but only publicly online as the persona.
- Person is a dedicated professional.
Does this affect artists?
I think artists are, as usual, a special case and social media is a different tool for us. Our reputation can “take more heat” than non artists, intellects or celebrities. Even boutique or cultural enterprises can cross lines on the web and actually benefit from it. There are Social Eunuch artists and cultural entities, to be sure, but there are also more social selfies (social media as a self portrait construct) and more controversial artists who are also social media elite citizenry. I look forward to posting more thoughts about this.