Social Media Strategy, Personal Branding

Are You Passionate About Social Media, Or Obsessed?

Margie ClaymanGuest post by Marjorie Clayman, resident blogger at She works at Clayman Advertising, Inc., her family-owned full-service marketing firm.


Passion or Obsession?

No, I’m not talking Calvin Klein scents. Actually, I’m putting forth a question to you.

Are you passionate about social media or are you obsessed with social media?

“Passion” has become one of those buzzwords in the online world. Your blog must wring the passion out of your heart and then out of the hearts of your readers. Your tweets must be borne out of passion. Your Facebook status updates…well, you get the idea. In the process of offering all of this advice, I fear we have lost, or at least forgotten, what passion really means. We have sacrificed Shakespeare for Twilight.

Wherein lies the confusion?

For many people, obsession and passion seem like the same thing, just like many confuse infatuation with true love. If you are obsessed with social media, you never want to stop tweeting or blogging. You can’t put your smart phone down. You can’t stop checking your website traffic and Klout score. It is all you think about. Passion can look, on the surface, very similar. There is an ongoing drive. There is little chance of the fire of interest burning out.

You can most certainly be obsessed with social media as a tool or as an occupying of your time. But you can’t be passionate about social media. You can be passionate about what social media can help you accomplish. You can be passionate about where social media can take you. But can a person be passionate about social media in and of itself? No. The endless drive to achieve some sort of online celebrity or success falls squarely into the category of obsession.

It comes down to motives

Just like in any court case, perhaps the most significant factor to consider here is motives. Passion isn’t self-aggrandizing. When pursuing a passion, you’re not thinking “what’s in it for me?” You’re doing it because you HAVE to. Because it’s in your blood and your bones and your soul. And usually, the objectives of your passion are bigger than yourself.

The person obsessed with social media often has motives squarely in the area of accomplishing goals of the self. She tweets to get followers or increase her Klout score. She blogs to get subscribers or visitors. This is social media rooted in constant activity and staying always in motion, like a shark swimming to stay alive. The path consists of one rung after another, and all of these steps lead to some level of presumed accomplishment.

Are you passionate or obsessed?

Are you bleeding your heart out on your blog because you really feel it’s necessary to share these things or are you after that one big blog post that will have your friends telling you what a great post it was? What is the point of spending one single minute at this? Do you want it? Or do you need it?

Are you using social media as a means to an end, or is social media the end and the means?

Many who claim passion for social are masking what really is obsession with self-worth, self-accomplishment, and self-discovery.

And I believe that passionately.

Do you?

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Dearest Margie, at the end of the day, what does it really matter? Is one wrong and the other right? Not quite sure what the point of this post is. Maybe I’m just too obsessed with my own self to see the post’s cryptic meaning. Or am I simply blinded by my passion? Oh, who cares?

    • MackCollier says

      @danperezfilms Well you cared enough to respond, Dan. To Margie’s credit, I think that’s the mark of a good blogger, well done!

      • byronfernandez says

        @MackCollier@danperezfilms@margieclayman Dan – Reminds me of the Social Network when Jesse Eisenberg says “And there’s a difference between being obsessed and motivated…” When Margie, or any of us talks about ‘motive,’ it’s just that: there are those who “get it,” and use these tools as seekers who value contribution to the community and their audience, over “self-aggrandizing.” And of course, those who ARE tools, and only use these platforms as a way to wonk people over the head with their own self-infatuation and ill-conceived sense of importance. Trolls stomping around under the Invisibility Cloak of “passion” are still pretty transparent to those of us who know better … 😉

        • says

          @byronfernandez Some people are obsessed with peanut butter and others are passionate about saving the whales. Or is it the other way around? Considering that one is the brother/sister of the other, what does it really matter? There are people who have achieved great results in their lives utilizing both and those whose passion/obsession has destroyed their lives.

          We gather at these blog posts and talk about passion and self-aggrandizing and then we get back on twitter and bow down before the biggest self-promoters on the social space. Where they succeed is getting you all to think they’re really just “passionate”. And you wanna talk motives? Give me a break…

          “There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.” ~Napoleon @MackCollier @margieclayman

        • byronfernandez says

          @danperezfilms@MackCollier@margieclayman Appreciate and admire your candor Dan; I agree. ABSOLUTELY – we like to hide behind nomenclature like “pain points,” “passion” that eventually becomes superfluous. To say we don’t begin with “what’s in it for me” or internal, selfish motives is delusion. Also see your point in “bowing down to the biggest self-promoters in the space” stemming from Napoleonic intentions: We’re not worried about people knowing us…we’re worried about NOT ENOUGH people knowing us 😉 But OWNING our anger, faults is much better than pretending they don’t exist; masquerading in sheep’s clothing…that’s just disingenuous and only comes back to Roast you anyway lol. It’s what we DO with that anger that can be redirected in helping others, changing lives, yada yada “transformational” leadership. Jargon intended.

        • margieclayman says

          Dan, I am saying exactly what you are saying. It is time to differentiate between the truly passionate, who most likely understand that social media is a tool, versus those who think they are passionate about “social media” when they are actually obsessed with their own self-image. I know you love giving me a hard time, but sadly it’s wasted in this instance. We’re saying the same thing. Sorry. @danperezfilms @byronfernandez @MackCollier

        • MackCollier says

          @danperezfilms@byronfernandez@margieclayman I’m just glad that Dan has once again figured out what the rest of us are too ‘self-absorbed’ to see for ourselves when it comes to social media. 😉

          We will always need people that will disagree and challenge us, versus those that just want to be disagreeable. I’m sure you’re shooting for the former here, as always.

        • says

          @margieclayman Dearest Margie, it’s NOT time to differentiate (why?), just do what you want to/have to do in life and STOP trying to differentiate. Let people do social media however they want to (there aren’t any rules, right?). You think being obsessed with your own self-image is wrong? Says who? Who’s “truly passionate” about social media who doesn’t have their own personal (selfish) reasons for what they tweet/blog? The discussion makes for good blog fodder for the social media “evangelists” but it’s a pointless exercise (which was the point of my original comment).

          Nuff said. @byronfernandez @MackCollier

        • byronfernandez says

          @danperezfilms@margieclayman@MackCollier Dan synthesized? There IS NO “Right” or “Wrong.” ambercadabra and Erika Napoletano say it all the time: OWN your thoughts, actions and do what WORKS for YOU. The only differentiator is WHO we are and how we define those achievements. Eliminate the superlatives, the doomsday deals and relentless, inane “things you are doing wrong” blog pontificating! Or as Mitch Joel always says, “Not either, or…WITH.” Which, in my youthful, naive opinion Marjorie was NOT doing here, just simply stating people understand/define “passion” differently

        • byronfernandez says

          @margieclayman@MackCollier@danperezfilms And Marjorie, nice try slipping the minor detail that you have been living under a rock and haven’t seen The Social Network yet; hoping it would go unnoticed. Unacceptable.

        • byronfernandez says

          @margieclayman@MackCollier@danperezfilms Just like I’ve been calling you Marjorie when your name is Margie… >> My Bad…

        • MSchechter says

          @byronfernandez The words themselves don’t become superfluous, only the way we use them. Intent matters far more than phrasing. Pain points are a very real thing, as is passion. We always try to call out the words that are now “ruined”… And that takes us pretty darn far away from actually doing anything, doesn’t it?

        • byronfernandez says

          @MSchechter Exactly. “Each word is an opportunity to be intentional” as my one of my colleagues says. Glad you pointed that out Mike. To BE, DO, rather than appear … 😉

  2. pbehnia says

    Hallelujah and yes. The difference between social media obsession and passion for a topic may not be discernible by measuring the tangible stuff (traffic, Klout, PeerIndex, etc.). But, to me, it’s getting clearer who is obsessed and who is passionate. I’ve got to believe I’m not the only one who sees this and who is turned off by the former.

    • margieclayman says

      @pbehnia I am pretty certain you are not alone in that corner :) I think the obsessed are going to run out of fumes rather soon, though.

      • byronfernandez says

        @margieclayman@MackCollier Productivity’s key. We talk a lot about walking the fine line between getting sh*t done and TimeSuck when it comes to SM and individual, agency goals. Thanks for this Margie … timely and useful as always

  3. MackCollier says

    Margie and interesting discussion, and I see two angles.

    The first is the productivity angle. Does ‘always being on’ make us more productive? Yesterday I was reviewing a video I’m going to post on my blog later, and my phone buzzed and I quickly checked the email, then went back to the video. About 2 mins later it buzzed again and I checked it again, then realized that I couldn’t pay attention to the video cause I kept checking the phone! I do stuff like this constantly, and I think in this way Social Media is actually hurting our productivity.

    Now, for the angle of obsession vs passion and tying to self-worth. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people let their sense of self-worth, for good or ill, be tied to Social Media. I saw someone post a list of ‘Top 10 Social Media Influencers’ or something a few days ago, and several of my friends were on it, and I wasn’t. I immediately thought ‘Hey! Why did they leave me out?’. Then got over it and realized how silly that is.

    In many ways, Social Media is a blessing and a curse. For a lot of us, it suddenly gives us a platform to be heard and acknowledged literally all around the world. That’s something that many of us could never have if we were confined to our small, local worlds. But at the same time, it can be easy to tie our sense of self-worth to any ‘popularity’ or visibility we might gain from using these tools.

    Interesting thoughts, Margie, I’ll have to keep thinking about this and look forward to the developing conversation!

    • margieclayman says

      @MackCollier Hi Mack! Great thoughts here and there is a lot to what you are saying about both perspectives.

      Productivity is definitely something that can be hindered by social media. I was out Christmas shopping with my mom on a day off yesterday and I would check my emails periodically. Every time I checked, I had 25-30 emails. If I had not checked periodically, I would have had close to 200 emails by the end of the day. That’s a lot of pressure on me to try to keep up on things, and that’s just one email account.

      As for personal worth, that’s really the core of the issue and what I’m most worried about. Whether it’s for your business or for yourself, social media is not the silver bullet. Having a lot of comments on your blog post doesn’t mean you’re a great person (or a bad one). And like you said, a lot of the “top influencer” lists can be great for the people included but can kind of bring down people who aren’t included.

      It’s important to back down. If you find that you can’t back away from social media easily, then you REALLY need to stop! :)

    • LisaRaymond says

       @MackCollier Hi, Mack and Margie,
      One reason people may have allowed their sense of self-worth become so tied to Social Media may be in part due to the metrics businesses are so desperately trying to find. He or she with the highest rank wins, so if we don’t have high scores, we’re not taken seriously and thus stand the chance of losing projects or clients.
      Numbers are simply that and nothing more. If we allow ourselves to be thought of or graded as merely a number, we have lost our individuality that feeds our obsession (or passion) for what we do. Our true numbers lie in those who subscribe to our blogs and emails, to those who put us on lists to watch our words purposely…these neighbors support our vision and to these people should our attentions lie.
      Marie, I enjoyed your post – very thought-provoking! Thank you, I’m rethinking which camp I’m in!

      • margieclayman says

         @LisaRaymond  @MackCollier That’s a great point, Lisa. It could all be the Klout effect. Very interesting. I’ll have to think about that further.
        Numbers are good for milestones, but obsessing over them doesn’t really get you very far. It’s not exactly like baseball where stats are nearly everything, right? :)

  4. pprothe says

    Margie – you really nailed it here. It’s easy to get caught up in the notion of Klout and follower counts but those are really vanity metrics – especially when I compare that to what’s happening in the offline world. Being passionate about social media is almost like being passionate about email. I wonder at what point it’s going to become simply another communication channel like your phone and email. Just like in other media, we need to find ways to cut through the clutter and create meaning.

    To Mack’s point, it’s so easy to be distracted by our phones beeping and buzzing. We’re a population afraid to miss out, but I’m thinking more and more that our technology is hindering our ability to experience the life in front of us. Seems the conversations on our phones trump those in front of us. I saw a funny photo on Instagram last week in which three people at a networking event all had their noses in their phones versus actually networking with each other. Kind of defeated the purpose in my opinion.

    I love the connectivity that social media makes possible. Without it, we likely never would have connected. It opens up lenses into what others are thinking, expanding your perspective. Key, is to not let it get the best of you. To control your technology and make it work for you versus letting it control you. Not always easy nor is this black and white . . .

    • MackCollier says

      @pprothe “I’m thinking more and more that our technology is hindering our ability to experience the life in front of us.”

      VERY true, I’d like to see a whole blog post just on this thought!

    • margieclayman says

      @pprothe I love this comment and I think it’s spot on.

      I was on vacation over the summer and a friend of mine and I went to an art museum. Throughout the trip she kept texting and emailing, so I found myself doing the same thing since I was waiting for her to catch up. I thought, “Man, something is really wrong here. I’m standing amongst Egyptian mummies and I’m on Twitter.”

      I like your wording – vanity metrics. Spot on indeed!

  5. davidpylyp1 says

    The reality is people will only engage with your if you provide the topics and content that interest them. This will provide your” tribe of followers” from ” Seth Godin” Myself I find the canned repetitive tweets and facebook posts lack personality when all they say is look at me!

    Thank you for posts that contribute and make us think..

    David Pylyp

    Living in Toronto Canada

    • margieclayman says

      @davidpylyp1 Phew. You had me worried there! Thanks, David. I’m glad you liked this post and didn’t find it banal :)

  6. Elaine_Fogel says

    I agree with what Mack said, Margie, that social media can be a blessing AND a curse. If we equate our newfound ability to publish – without going through the usual filters and hoops that traditional media previously set – then, we are essentially acting as our own “newspapers” or “book publishers.”

    Solopreneurs and small business owners, who participate in social media for business development purposes, are doing similar work to the editorial departments of the past. PLUS, building online relationships simultaneously. Even with the best strategy and measurement tools, it is a time-consuming endeavor, especially if one is networking in person, marketing, managing operations, and delivering products and services.

    Perhaps that’s why so many are permanently connected to their mobile devices. No one wants to fall behind. So, the question now becomes… fall behind what? Where’s the contest and the finish line?

    • margieclayman says

      @Elaine_Fogel those are all great questions, Elaine. That’s why I feel it’s so important for businesses (and people) to have plans before jumping into social media. If you don’t set some sort of finish line you could end up running full force forever and ever :)

  7. says

    I absolutely agree that many people are mistaking (or intentionally masking) passion for obsession. You lay out the distinctions so well. Hopefully this post encourages those who are on the cusp of going off the obsession deep end to ask themselves the appropriate questions and change how they are using social media if they TRULY mean to use it in a passionate, purposeful and value-adding way.

    • margieclayman says

      @Nikki_Little Thanks Nikki! I do believe that there are distinctions between passion and obsession. Both are bright-burning fires but I just believe passion is more…productive :) Glad you liked the post!

  8. says

    My wife thinks I’m obsessed. I think I’m passionate. She’s probably right.

    Actually, I love the technology of social media as much as the use of social media. Well, maybe more.

    • margieclayman says

      @Dick_Foster Loving the technology is not the same as saying you’re passionate about social media, however. You can be passionate about finding and learning about new technologies. Can you be passionate about tweeting? I don’t think so…just like I don’t think you can be passionate about talking on the phone but you can be passionately interested in the technology that enables you to do so :)

  9. westfallonline says

    @SocialMediaRPT thanks for the RT @MargieClayman is a talented writer – great content! #12Most

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  11. techguerilla says

    I’m not sure I got the point?  I’m a bit ‘obsessed’ with the notion of intent, I’ve written extensively on it and I think it matters a great deal…to me.  But the question I’d ask is if someone produces a blog post or a tweet that is valuable to you, is your value less because their intent was selfishly motivated vs. driven by some altruistic passion?  Value is derived and defined by the recipient of the action/content not by the creator.
    Do I care that your motives for guest posting here are to drive attention to you? Whether you are obsessed or passionate? Whether you mistakenly describe yourself as one while acting as the other? Not a whit.  What I care about is whether you let that passion or obsession drive you past a line of ethics or morals that I find unacceptable.  But that again is decided by me, not you or your motivation.
    I think I may be too dense to grok this one Margie.

    • margieclayman says

       @techguerilla You are viewing the conversation through an outside looking in prism. I am talking about looking into your own self to determine what you’re trying to accomplish. I am not saying that you should worry about how people are perceiving what you do. I’m saying you should be honest with yourself and see if you are truly passionate about something or if it’s an obsession that you have created in your head.

      • techguerilla says

         @margieclayman I understand that part, I’m trying to grasp the underlying point.  Are you saying one (passion/obsession) is more valuable than another?  Are you saying that we deceive ourselves and then use that self deception to advise others incorrectly?  Basically, I get the sense that you’re saying that self-deception, or that confusion, about terminology is somehow harmful in some way but I’m not really comprehending where the harm lies if that makes any sense.

        • margieclayman says

           @techguerilla Well, here’s the way I look at it.
          I feel that obsession emphasizes the individual more. YOU are obsessed. YOU need to do whatever it is. YOU get something from it. People who are obsessed with social media may find that they need fulfillment they get – how many followers they have, how many comments, whatever they use to measure their own success. That constant feedback is like a drug that keeps them hooked.
          Passion, to me, bespeaks a looking out. You have to do it because you feel it’s the right thing to do for others. Perhaps you are online because you are trying to spread the word about a really important charity or something like that. Your own personal goals don’t really matter. It’s something bigger.
          The danger in mixing obsession with passion, from where I sit, is that you can burn out faster, you can get thrown off your game easier, and you can be left more open to the arrows that people tend to hurl towards you. If you’re passionate about something, however, it doesn’t really matter what people think about your involvement. You know in your heart you have to do it because it’s the right thing to do.
          That’s just how I see the distinction. It may not be how everyone sees it, and that’s cool :)

  12. buddy says

    In the practical sense, what difference does it make, and as an instructor of social media, I believe that you can be passionate about it, and not the message…and the word passion does not require quotations, unless you mean it in irony, which I don’t think you do.

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