Commentary: $44 billion can buy Twitter, but it can’t buy respect
In the United States and in Silicon Valley, we take it for granted that the social media companies that we do business with deserve the high value we attach to them and to their platforms, and to the good work they do to spread the word about us. To the extent that we’re able to connect with each other, we’ve become more attuned to the ways in which our interactions are affected by technology.
All of a sudden, the Internet isn’t just how the World Wide Web was conceived and invented, but also how you, me and other people, interact, exchange information, publish content, and more generally, communicate. If that’s true, the value of the technology is growing all the time.
The question is whether technology is good or bad for business. After all, the fact is that people are using social media to do business. And it seems pretty clear that the Internet as we know it, and the businesses that use it to connect directly with consumers, have not only enhanced consumer expectations and changed the way we do business, but also are creating entirely new economic opportunities for American business.
It is a simple question of definition, and one that can’t be definitively answered.
It’s certainly true that, for consumers, being able to access their favorite websites and social media sites in the comfort of their own homes, on their own screens and with their own privacy settings, has become a matter of choice, just as it has become a matter of convenience for them to do business with companies that offer products and services that they want to buy.
We’re not arguing, however, that these kinds of changes are good for business. They may be, and they certainly aren’t bad. But they are certainly not a panacea, either.
The truth is that there are a lot of things that the Internet, social media and other technologies can’t do. For example, they cannot bring about fundamental societal changes. They cannot change the fact that we aren’t a democracy, but perhaps are moving toward it. Or they cannot change what seems to be the primary challenge in all our interactions with others: that we have so little time to do what we need to do.
Technology isn’t just tools. It’s an increasingly important ingredient, but it’s one that we can’t easily predict — or control. People interact with technology constantly and over