Why Social Media Makes You Less Creative

crowdsHere’s the problem. Imitation is in our DNA.

You look at successful people, see how they dress, cut their hair, eat, travel, and try to copy them. The thinking is that if you replicate their actions – the ones that appear to have made them successful – you’re likely to be successful too.

Doesn’t work, does it?

You can see this very clearly online. For example, how many times have you seen quotes, tweets, shares from Oprah, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs? Thousands, I’d say.

And how many times have you seen posts interpreting, re-framing, analyzing, and recycling different aspects of these people’s lives? Endless, isn’t it?

This does three things:

  1. It creates noise.
  2. It creates an echo chamber. I’m repeating what she’s repeating what he’s repeating.
  3. It’s not interesting.

And it’s the third point that’s important. Offering a unique slant on something Warren Buffet said is fine, fantastic actually, if it is unique.

Otherwise, you’re just adding to the echo chamber.

Worse you lose credibility.


Because it implies you have nothing original to say. Strangely enough it’s hard to see this sometimes as we get carried along by trends, habits, and news of the day.

However, it also offers an opportunity. The opportunity to step back, see what’s not being addressed, and serve that market.

Not everyone wants to read about Facebook. Not everyone is on Twitter. Some people don’t even like Steve Jobs. Heresy or what?

So, here’s a suggestion.

  • Ignore Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for a week.
  • Stay offline as much as possible.
  • Make notes during the day. Take photos.
  • Let the ideas sink in.
  • Write a three hundred word post every night instead.
  • Sit back and see what happens.

I suspect you’ll break the cycle of imitation or, if not, at least see how strong a grip it has on others. Now that’s something to write about.

Friendly Warning: if you do this, even for two or three days, you’ll suddenly have lots of ideas and there won’t be enough minutes in the day.