The people on stage were loud and their voices echoed through the auditorium. As each minute passed, their numbers grew larger. At first, everyone on stage knew each other, but as the crowd grew so did the number of strangers. Soon, the stage and backstage were full, and the curtain could no longer hold back the multitude of performers.
Everyone on stage was either a speaker, musician, or artist – anyone with something to say. Even if it wasn’t his or her formal occupation, the stage was open to anyone who wanted to proclaim anything. There weren’t many rules, and individualism was celebrated regardless of its veracity, vulgarity, or irrelevance.
But there was a catch. The stage couldn’t be reserved for a certain entertainer. It was always open – to anyone and everyone who wanted to come and proclaim, perform, or paint something. What was the result? The stage was always packed with people making noise.
Admission was free to the public. If a person was willing to put their name, birth date, physical and email addresses, and phone number on a slip of paper, they could walk through the gate and see what was happening inside. People walking by outside, would often hear the chaos and poke their heads in to see what was happening. Some people couldn’t handle the overload of information, and would walk back out shaking their heads searching for fresh air and silence. But most people loved the commotion – especially upon realizing that they could get on stage if they wanted to.
Ironically, the auditorium became the place were everyone wanted to hang out. All day, every day, millions of people would walk in – leave their personal information at the door – and sit down to enjoy the show. At some point, most people got on stage for a moment or two and shared a photo of their food, a self-proclaimed witty comment, or a political soapbox. The audience became the performers, the performers became the audience, and the cycle continued every day for years.
Because so many people were consistently attending the thousands of daily performances, companies thought it would be a great place to put up shiny banners. Soon, the entire auditorium was covered with advertisements. Not the normal advertisements that you find on a billboard or in a magazine – witty advertisements crafted specifically for each attendee. Some of the audience left because of advertising, but most didn’t care. Instead, they enjoyed the personalized opportunities to buy more stuff or play free games.
But there was a BIG problem. Most of the audience had to go to work or school, and many people complained that they might miss performances while gone. But the management company solved the problem quickly, and any customer that wanted could get a portable stage to go with them.
Most of the audience was excited to get a free mini-stage, and smiled as they sat at their desks watching the ongoing performances. They even found the mini-stage to be a great place to let off steam about their bosses or teachers.
Everyone was happy! And all it cost them was some silly personal information!
The name of the stage is social media, and we are the audience and the performers. What does that say about us? Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Or an opportunity? Comment below…