June 16, 2014

On Automation

On par with my feelings about The Paradox of Choice, I’m mad passionate about the topic of automation. And just like choice, it’s the new four-letter word in my lexicon. You see, the systematic reduction of manpower has been eating away at me subtly, and reached critical mass this week as I perused my social media feeds and saw it rear its ugly head, again. THIS is about THAT.

When I log onto Facebook, see what you’re up to, possibly “like” or comment, and then go to Instagram and see the same thing, you cheapen my interaction with you. When that same post is also a Tweet? Katy bar the door. Alongside your words and links, what’s communicated is that what you shared is for anybody. Everybody. Turning me into an any- and every-body.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reaching all your people, when what I’m experiencing is, actually, duplication.

Automation of social media also trains me to ignore you. Of course I’m not going to read the same post 3×, so when I see your avatar, and the first few words are the same, I move on down the feed. You’re showing up again, hooray! And you’re providing no new value, boo! When that happens a few times, I’m not paying full attention to you anymore.

Social media succeeds in creating virtual, inter-personal connections, and when you automate this, a two-way street becomes a radio broadcast.

Yes, each platform—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—requires different content, and not to be treated uniformily. But there’s another reason automation, here, does not compute; it makes you, the automator, an automaton mindlessly fulfilling a task. Automating your posts might reach more people, but is actually more akin to designing disengagement. Connection becomes a cog in a machine. Sure, I feel that withdrawal, but the weight is felt most heavy on you.

Inspired by the earlier word automatism, ‘automation” means “quality of being automatic.” Blech. The more you automate the aspects of your business (life) the less engaged you are. Showing up to share and receive, in real time, authentically, is the wellspring from which we learn, grow, find joy and thrive.


‘On Automation’ is one in a series of short musings about topics I inquire about, a lot.