Marshall McLuhan’s view on the “social media expert”


I was just asked “what is a social media expert”?

Marshall McLuhan is still the oracle. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the master.

“Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the groundrules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. The professional tends to classify and specialise, to accept uncritically the groundrules of the environment. The groundrules provided by the mass response of his colleagues serve as a pervasive environment of which he is contentedly unaware. The ‘expert’ is the man who stays put.”

– Marshall McLuhan

In other words, a “social media expert” is an oxymoron – it cannot exist. The true trailblazers who forge new paths for the rest are the amateurs, the ones who are continually trying new things because they do NOT know. Anyone who truly understands social media would never pretend otherwise.

I wrote down this quote a dozen years ago because it so accurately reflected the way I felt about ‘professionals’ and ‘amateurs’. Amidst today’s extraordinary pace of change this outlook is in fact far more relevant than it ever has been before.

Celebrate the amateur!