Social Media 2010 Legacy 3 – Work and Play.


Two weeks ago, I argued that 2010 has been a world-changing year.

Now, by ‘crowning’ Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year, I am pleased to report that Time magazine appears to agree with me. How opinion forming is that? “This honour is awarded to the figure deemed to have had the most influence on world events that year – not necessarily in a positive way. Both Hitler and Stalin have won in the past”.

Bizarrely, if you read my last post (, Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1984. In this post, I brought your attention to the George Orwell novel and this quote by Mark Read, WPP Digital’s chief executive quoted on Brand Republic

“As Facebook has surpassed the half-billion-users milestone, and is effectively the third largest country in the world, it is no longer a matter of if brands should have a presence on Facebook, but how they can be successful.”

Now, on 15 December, Time magazine has said(

“This year, Facebook ….. added its 550 millionth member. One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day.”  

Only a year ago, if you had forecast that Facebook would grow at 700,000 members a DAY, people would have that you were mad. 

What does all this activity mean?

I have discussed some aspects of this in my previous two posts.

This week, as my last post (sic) of 2010, I will discuss one aspect of modern life that online connectivity, including Facebook, has challenged and this is the muddy water that we used to call Work and Play.

In the old days, in true Mad Men style, advertising people like me put on our smart clothes and went to work. Life was clear. When we were in the office, certainly in office hours, we were working.

Some knew the trick of leaving their jackets draped haphazardly behind their chairs, implying they were in the office somewhere – in another department, talking to a senior person behind closed doors or in the lav. They were ‘in’. They were working.

If they weren’t ‘in’, unless they were at a meeting outside the office (which would be clearly noted in the diary on their desk), they were not working. They were ‘out’. The difference between being in and out of the office was clearly delineated.

In reality, a lot of the time we were getting pissed in the pub.

Forgive me for being chippy but, without Facebook et al, did this mean we spent more time meeting people face-to-face, talking to them and getting to know them?

These days, all this has changed. Are Facebook friends really friends? Do they all really know each other? Is Facebook a serious social connection – or is it a game? The old definitions of work and play no longer exist.

At work, companies can play Big Brother and monitor your ‘working’ day on Facebook or not – but they cannot do this to all of us all of the time. And they don’t really know if you are there anymore (and if in working hours, unless you actually are in the office, you leave your ‘location finder’ on, you must be mad). No one knows where they are. Of course, we know where we ourselves are – but not where anyone else is. They are not ‘in’ anymore.

Anyway, with the emergence of tablets and WiFi et al, you don’t have to be using company equipment anymore. Who is to know if you are sending a work-related or social message – or researching an important topic online?

By the same token, at the week-end, how are you to get away from your boss? What possible excuse could you have for not being connected to the office? “Great news, we’ve got a meeting in Seoul on Monday. We’re flying out this evening. Be there”.

Of course, not everybody has a job. In fact, during 2011, fewer and fewer of us will have jobs. In this case, the opposite dynamic applies. You don’t work, which means you don’t have any money.

You don’t have any money, so you can’t play either.

You might as well get pissed in the pub. At least you will meet people face-to-face.

I believe 2010, in some part because of the ubiquity of Facebook, the delineations of work and play have disappeared.

So, if you are working and are given some nice toys this Christmas, enjoy them while you can. You won’t have many days off in 2011.

If you are not working, please make the most of life, with or without nice toys.

Either way, I hope you have a mad 2011 when the world will change even more.

Merry New Year!

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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