noun 1. the act of a person or thing that wins.
I can’t remember winning at any competitive sport until college. In the Gonzaga University intramural D league basketball championship, having defeated one of our most difficult opponents (the men’s soccer team, who also populated the referee pool), we played the ROTC team and won pretty handily because we took higher percentage shots. At one point defending with four people and having one person “cherrypicking” underneath the opposite basket. As insignificant as it was, that was a fun experience.
Everything else that I did competitively I lost at. Wrestling second place in the city, fourth place in the region, dead meat at state. Baseball: dead last in the conference every year I played. On and on. Yet, I yearned for winning to the point that I became a really bad sport. All I wanted to do was win, and I hated that part about myself. So I stopped playing. Sure, the urge to win materializes in a game of Monopoly once in while (I made my brother-in-law so angry by refusing to cut him a deal that he’ll never play with me again), but by and large I don’t feel the compulsion to win at everything I do – I much prefer collaboration and learning from other people.
Winning at the Olympics
As I’ve been reading about the Olympics, I’ve been struck by how absolute the need to win becomes. The New York Times published a pretty scathing article about Lolo Jones as an image-driven athlete who would both pose nude and has discussed her religion publicly. The gist of the story is that because Lolo hasn’t won anything, she lacks credibility. She is compared to Anna Kournikova. The lesson: Win or be discredited. Ironically, the author of the NYT piece mentions that the same standards aren’t applied to Ryan Lochte – who has won gold medals, but is decidedly less image-conscious than Jones. She’s a woman, not entitled to be both attractive and chaste….. unless she wins.
An even more overt nastiness was done to 18 year-old British diver Tom Daley, whose father died of a brain tumor last year. When Daley failed to win an event a “fan” tweeted him to tell him he had let down his dad with his performance, also threatening to drown him. A soccer player also tweeted a homophobic message to Daley. So hell hath no fury unless you win.
Winning in social media
There are people who need to be right in social media. Facebook sucks. Twitter isn’t what it once was. Pinning is for girls. Google Plus is the hip social media jazz club. Path is much better than any other social media platform. LinkedIn is great because I can say I’m using social media without being social…. whatever the case there are platform zealots that think their platform is a winner.
Then there are people who think that their perspective on social media is the only perspective that should be heard. A guy left a comment on one of my contributor’s blog posts calling it “irresponsible” to share her perspective on social media platforms. The underlying thesis of the comment was that someone could read this one blog post and devise their social media strategy based upon it. If my site holds that much weight with readers let me know, and I will write more elaborate pieces in the future. I understand positioning yourself as an expert in a field, but deconstructing others to try substantiate that is poor form.
What’s special about social media platforms are that they are transactional. People use social media to connect with family and friends, and to meet new people. There are community norms but nothing is sacrosanct. You don’t log off of Facebook or Twitter and declare a winner. You don’t diminish someone’s point of view because you need to be right. Users retreat to these platforms to be in the moment – to see and pin cool stuff. To share the banalities of the day. And there is more community and content than you could ever fathom consuming or outreaching to. If you’re a social media winner, odds are you’ve awarded that honor to yourself or someone is kissing your backside.
There’s nothing wrong with having objectives and purpose for social media so long as you understand that other people have objectives and purpose as well and they don’t have to be lockstep or even congruent with yours. You can follow Lolo Jones on Twitter and focus on the fact that she’s pretty funny and engaging rather than the gold medal that she had the smallest chance to win and didn’t.
Winning isn’t everything – in fact sometimes it’s counterproductive to growth.
Don’t believe the New York Times – the qualitative difference between these two is stark.