Are You A Shaq or A Penelope?

penelope-cruz-social-mediaAre you embracing social media connectivity, or trying to hide from it?

I realize that not everyone on the planet is going spend hours and hours each day communicating via social networks, creating content, and generally treating the social Web as if it’s the greatest development since “add your own” butter at movie theaters. 

But I’m increasingly hearing from people that are participating in social networks (most notably Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter) but seem to be doing so out of some sense of societal obligation, like it’s jury duty with avatars.

Ultimately, I don’t see a lot of grey area with regard to social media and social network adoption and usage. You either love it, or you do it but secretly roll your eyes. You’re either a Shaq or a Penelope.

The Shaq

Shaquille O’Neal is perhaps the best current example of celebrity social media adoption. Among the five best-known athletes on the planet, he nevertheless has totally embraced social connectivity, spending hours per week communicating with humor and grace on Twitter (where he has 216,000+ followers).

He certainly doesn’t need to do this. He has money and fame in spades. He does it because he likes people, he likes to interact, and most critically he isn’t afraid to give up a piece of himself and his privacy. (For in-depth coverage of Shaq and the Phoenix Suns’ social media prowess, go here)

Three days ago, Shaq conducted his own instant contest with this Tweet giving away Laker tickets to the first person in Phoenix that spotted him:
Followed by this Tweet (9 minutes later) announcing the winner, and graciously asking his community to follow:

He doesn’t complain that “the great unwashed” are able to interact with him online. He encourages it.

The Penelope

Last week, a friend saw Penelope Cruz at LAX two days after the Oscar’s ceremony. (Ms. Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

Evidently, Penelope was bundled up in semi-mummy fashion with multiple scarves and sunglasses, removing her wraps just long enough for security identification before retreating to her disguise.

If I had just won an Oscar, I’d be parading that thing through LAX like the Olympic torch, and encouraging people to buy me beers in exchange for the opportunity to touch the statue.

But I’m told that Penelope went way out of her way to not interact with the public at all. The same is true online. On Oscar Night, there were thousands of congratulations to Penelope on Twitter. But no response (I don’t believe she has an account).

Does lack of Twitter outreach make Penelope Cruz a worse celebrity than Shaq? Of course not. But it does demonstrate the difference between embracing the public and keeping your distance. Social media exacerbates that distinction.

Give a Little to Get a Lot

shaq-shoe-obamaDoes active social media participation require you to give up some of your privacy? Yes. Does it require that you spend time cultivating digital “relationships” and helping others? Absolutely.

And if you don’t accept that you have to give of yourself to get back from the community ten-fold, then why are you participating at all?

If you’re a Penelope at heart, quit complaining about Facebook et al, and just sign off. It’s okay. Not everyone can be Shaq (or have size 23 shoes)…

(photos by PinkMoose and AP)

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