November 7th, 2008 by Bob Bly
“We’re all spending plenty of time in our social network accounts,” says Clay McDaniel, co-founder of Spring Creek Group, in an article in DM News (11/3/08, p. 13).
I for one spend NO time on the social network sites — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn — where I have accounts. So Clay is wrong.
My problem is not, however, with Clay being a cheerleader for social media. It’s with his use of the language.
There are very few instances where “all” — which in Clay’s statement is synonymous with “everyone” — can be safely used.
That’s because it’s impossible to know — or prove — that everyone is doing anything … whether it’s social networking or switching to hybrid cars.
Clay might have been better off to say “most of us” … but that still wouldn’t be safe, unless you could cite a reliable source reporting that over 50% of Internet users are spending X number of hours a week on social networks.
The safest statement would have been to say “many of us.”
But when it comes to social media, even that might be challenged.
For instance, another article in this same issue of DM News reports that more than half of Internet users have NOT read a blog in the past year … and only 12% read blogs daily or weekly.
Again, my point here is not whether social networking is hot or not.
It’s that as professional communicators, we (including Clay) must use accurate language when expressing opinions.
Otherwise, we instantly lose all credibility — as Clay has here.
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