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The Power of Social Media — From Zero to Hero in 24 Hours

Strangely Compelling

Strangely compelling

If you’re like most people, you can recall a time in your life when you might have wished you had more friends. 24 hours ago I thought about how nice it would be to become a tad more popular and decided to do something about it. Today I have people from all over the globe clamoring to make my acquaintance and I’m struggling to figure out how to stop the madness. Frankly,  I’m not 100% sure I have figured out the best way to put the genie back in the bottle. You see, in my quest to stay current on all things social media, I recently started playing Mafia Wars. Mafia Wars is a very simple — yet surprisingly compelling — game you play with your pals on Facebook and/or MySpace. The goal is to become the wealthiest, most powerful mob boss you can be. And, in the world of organized crime, you need a lot of troops to make this happen. Unfortunately, most of my real-world friends have lives. They have jobs and families. They choose to spend their free time constructively. Far too few were interested in helping me satisfy my virtual bloodlust.
Typical Real-World Friend

Typical real-world friend

So I did what I had to do and visited the Mafia Wars forums where you can actively recruit new Facebook friends to join your mob. Without giving it much thought, I added myself to a list of folks looking for new “associates.” I figured this would be a good way to find a few dozen like-minded psychopaths to help me crack a few safes and break a few knee caps. I was wrong. It wasn’t dozens of people, it was hundreds. I’ve been getting friend requests from people around the globe at a rate of about 1 every 30 seconds. On the one hand, this is kind of cool. My “family” is now a force to be reckoned with. I’ve also become an international sensation. And, most importantly, I do have a lot more younger, hipper and better-looking friends than I did yesterday.
Typical Virtual-World Friend

Typical virtual-world friend

On the other hand, I’m wondering how long it will take for my virtual popularity to subside. I’m beginning to think I’m going to continue getting requests from strangers wanting to join my mob long after my interest in the game ends (I give that another week tops). It also occurred to me last night that my fellow mobsters have the same access to my Facebook information as my real-world friends. This meant I had to pull some personal information off of my profile. When I decide to call it quits, I’m going to need to put the e-mail I use for social media experimentation into the witness protection program for a while until things cool down. I’m also going to have to spend a few hours “unfriending” people so my Facebook account is once again manageable. I suppose that’s all part of the fun. This whole episode is yet another example of just how powerful social media can be for important as well as trivial matters. It also serves as a reminder of the need to use caution and common sense when messing around with applications such as this. Had I used my work e-mail for this adventure, I would have caused myself a ton of unnecessary grief. But, at least for today, I’m going to enjoy my popularity, rally my troops and whack a few rivals. I think I’ll also be able to earn enough money to buy that casino I’ve had my eye on.