I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment when I read the above email from Google. A photo that I posted to Google Maps has been viewed 81,855 times! As Google so justly noted, I am helping others make better decisions. What a contribution to humanity. I am indeed an altruistic paragon and should be praised for my noble unselfish contribution.
Herein lies a problem with social media sharing fetichism. It gives us a false feeling of achievement. I am usually not big into Bible quotes, but Galatians 6:7 seems fitting “Do not be deceived … for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
The truth behind my 81,855 views? Astrid and I were driving home from a long day of onsite consulting and got caught in a snowstorm. Starving and trying to escape the storm we pulled of the Autobahn into Kirchdorf an der Krems, a lovely little village of 4,000 souls in Upper Austria. The only restaurant open was Pizzeria San Marco. As we waited out the worst of the storm, I snapped and posted the photo below.
The reason my photo is getting so much attention is that San Marco may be the most popular pizzeria name around – 14,700,000 hits on Google. In comparison, Al Capone, another popular pizzeria name, only returns 1,020,000 hits.
I doubt I am helping people in their decision making and I may even be harming them. For example, imagine a hungry person in Frankfurt – home to three Pizzeria San Marcos – following a Google navigation suggestion and mistakenly driving 550 kilometers to Kirchdorf an der Krems. If you don’t think it could happen, check out our post about the guy who smeared lemon juice on his face to avoid detection by security cameras.
What is your take on the value of sharing and social media? How much does rating and posting information about products and services help others make better decisions?