The social media has legalized the story of our success. We promote ourselves as never before, and it has become acceptable in a culture that for decades has been infused by the Law of Jante.
A few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon I was scrolling through my social media channels.
After having scrolled through finance news on Twitter, I headed for business news on LinkedIn, then to my friends’ updates on Facebook, and finished off on Instagram for a quick look at my interests. I usually also visit my company’s internal channel, Yammer, to see what is going on in all the corners of the company on the informal side.
The entire social session takes around 5 minutes, and afterwards I feel updated on what is happening in the world, the company, my profession, my network, and my friends and family. On average, I take what I call a “social browser” three times a day.
This Friday, I became aware of an update from a person in my network who had proudly taken a selfie heading into a private plane. The person is a skilled and successful businessman who was going on a business trip and was proud of being able to take a private plane. There were many positive comments and “likes” on the update and the Law of Jante did not show its face – at least not on social media.
I actually think it’s great when successful people are proud of their achievements and don’t downplay their success to dampen the jealousy of the Danish national spirit. I believe that celebration and showcasing successes have a positive effect on other people, not matter if it takes place in business or private. Nothing succeeds like success.
I acknowledge that Facebook and other social media is very much ”see me – hear me”, and social media are increasingly used for self-representation and self-promotion. I am also aware that we always post the positive aspects of ourselves and our achievements, as when the dad posts a picture of a freshly baked banana cake Wednesday night at 22:00 with #Dadincharge or when the business woman posts a link to a news broadcast, where she was interviewed about her startup business with a #entrepreneur to the link. I think it’s refreshing that people show their happiness and pride so directly.
Just think of yourself. I am sure that the first thing you did the last time you got a new job was to update your LinkedIn profile with a post of how much you’re looking forward to the new challenges. You took the opportunity to promote yourself and your company, which I think is extremely positive.
The limit to what we post about ourselves is clearly moving, and I believe that this trend will continue. Over the next years, we will experience a social shift where posts are becoming more personal and self-promoting. And those who listen to the social channels will accept the development because the personification makes the news more exciting. The good thing about social channels is that listeners can easily turn off the channel if the messages are too “noisy” compared to their own values and attitudes. Of course, you do not bother to see banana cake posts every week, but you would like to receive updates that bring news or insight – whether big or small.
Fortunately, the Law of Jante is retiring, and our use of social media will push it into the grave. It’s positive because there is no room for the Law of Jante in a world where people are proud of their achievements and performances, and where people are eager to tell the world about them.