Something I've thought about for a long time (and blogged about at least twice) is the connection between success and mental illness. No, I'm not being facetious--I mean it--I think if you really want to be scientific about qualities to look for when hiring for social media positions, I would venture to guess that every successful social media person out there falls under at least one of the following DSM diagnoses:
- OCD--Do you feel you MUST be connected online 24/7? Does the thought of being in a wi-fi-less zone fill you with dread? Are you compelled to click on every link in every blog post you read because you're afraid you'll miss something important if you don't? Take a look at the biggest social media "rockstars"--they are uber-connected almost every minute of the day. They're tweeting from airplanes, blogging while on vacation (or spending time before vacation queuing up posts to run while they're gone), pouring over blog traffic reports or obsessing about how many Twitter lists they're on. The thing is, to be successful in social media you kind of have to be obsessive...because otherwise you'd have lost interest a long time ago and abandoned the whole thing. There is so much information out there; how many "normal" people would take the time to stay on top of it all?
- Narcissistic personality disorder--In case you don't feel like clicking on that link, here's how Wikipedia defines NPD:
"The narcissist is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige. Narcissistic personality disorder is closely linked to self-centeredness. It is also colloquially referred to as the god complex."
All the people out there who don't get Twitter--who can't imagine why anyone would care to know what they're doing--those people are not narcissists. Those of us who feel compelled to share our every thought, link back to our blog posts, and offer up little bits o' wisdom...on some level we are narcissists. And I'm sorry but look me in the eye and tell me that your chest doesn't puff out with pride just a little bit knowing that you have 4 or 5 digits of followers on Twitter or thousands--or maybe it's millions--of blog subscribers. And if you do have thousands or millions of Twitter followers or subscribers--tell me it doesn't make you feel kinda important. Hell, I have 184 subscribers and I'm the first to admit it impresses me...and in terms of real numbers I don't even rate. Add to that being constantly referred to as a "rockstar," being paid huge amounts of money to consult or speak, being able to generate appreciable income from blogging by virtue of sponsorships...tell me that wouldn't give anyone a god complex.
- Bipolar disorder--I won't name any names but there is at least one huge social media-ite out there who I would be willing to bet money is clinically bipolar. The part of bipolar that relates to social media success is mania--and this person is basically the walking definition of mania. Barely sleeps. Prolific content creator--blog posts, videos, books, ideas, schemes...in short, brilliant. If you know anything about bipolar disorder, you know that basically anyone and everyone in the history of the world who is in any major way creative, brilliant, and/or prolific was/is bipolar. Therefore, if you ask me, it just stands to reason that to be successful in social media--a career that requires huge amounts of enthusiasm, time, creativity, intensity and just flat-out time spent digesting information in some way or another--being bipolar gives you a leg up on mere mortals.
- ADHD--because of the inalienable fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, in order to be successful in social media it is imperative you be able to multi-task. And nobody can multi-task, especially online, like someone with ADHD. Why? Because only people with ADHD can hyperfocus--in other words, be able to sit online, riveted and engaged, for endless hours. The thing with social media is that it takes scads of time--more time than actually exists in a day. Think about it--blogging, tweeting, reading, participating on multiple online social networks--it takes a LOT of time. Anyone who says you can do it in a few minutes or an hour a day is lying. If you want to be posting your own content, keeping up with other thought leaders in social media, participating in online dialogues, responding to comments and tweets, etc--that cannot be done in an hour a day. You need to be doing many more than one thing at once in order to maximize your waking hours, especially online...and the people best able to do this are those with ADHD.
Maybe people need to re-think their negative biases against mental illness--because after all, some of the biggest names in social media probably wouldn't be where they are if they were "normal."