The PR BlogPR TrendsOnline SubculturesThe Hippie Web is Dead (2005–2015)

The Hippie Web is Dead (2005–2015)

No more Kumbaya on social media unconferences.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

I hereby declare the Hippie Web dead.

In 2008, I described the social web as the “Hippie Web.” I thought it was funny, and somehow it stuck.

We were social media evangelists, and some of us, myself included, were perhaps a little too… enthusiastic.

But what can I say?
We were hippies. Social media hippies.

We even had our version of Woodstock in Sweden in 2009—Sweden Social Media Web Camp.

But what began for us in Jaiku must come to an end:

The Social Media Hippie Club

Getting to experience the advent of social media has been a privilege. I’ve met so many new friends—and many wonderful weirdos. It has been a ride.

But you know things are destined to end when you start hearing people talk along these lines:

“I accept all friend requests, and you should, too. All you need is love!”

“You just got retweeted. It’s the universe paying it forward. Savour it. Then pay it back.”

“Don’t say IRL because which reality is more real? You must say AFK instead.” 1 “Away From Keyboard,” obviously.

“I have thousands of followers. I wouldn’t call myself Jesus, but I guess he had twelve, right?”

“Yes, we have unconference, and everyone is welcome. Word to wise — don’t use your AFK name around here.”

“Where’s your scarf? No disrespect, but you look corporate.”

“I met a traditional company yesterday. My gosh. They have no idea what’s going on.”

Maybe there’s a time for everything.
And maybe the time for the Hippie Web is over.

Declaring the Hippie Web Dead

(Almost) everyone I know who started a blog has given up long ago. Only a few soldiers—for whatever mysterious reason.

In the wake of the Hippie Web, no one cares about how many followers you have on Twitter or what your Klout score is supposed to be.

The Cluetrain Manifesto is about to be forgotten, also.

One World One Web
Credit to Paul Downey for this beautiful illustration.

No one will miss this psychedelic wonderland brimming with naivete and social media optimism—except for us hippies.

The social media influencers, the glossy fashionistas with their daily outfits and their parties and VIP invitations, are already negotiating with their agents regarding their next brand collaboration. Ad revenues, giveaways, corporate freebies, brand deals, and collaborations. Fair game.

Businesses will likely ease their way out and divert their focus onto e-commerce, online marketing, and digital transformation. In social media, they’ll probably leave a lonely communicator behind to fend for themselves as best they can.

And who amongst us in the general public will have the unyielding energy to keep excessively posting, discussing, and sharing on social media? Not the finest of people, would be my guess.

Read also: Social Media Fakers—Oh, They Seem So Perfect Online

Love, Sharing, and Jaiku

The irony is that I feel no bitterness, no resentment. It had to end eventually. I will miss some aspects of the Hippie Web deeply. Other aspects? Not so much. Frankly, it was time.

As we, the self-proclaimed social media naturals, move on from singing Kumbaya on our unconferences to perhaps more commercial endeavours, just let me say this in honour of this bygone era:

Let’s never forget that the bottom line of social media is all about one thing—connecting human beings.

And Jaiku, of course.

Peace out!

Read also: Enter the Money Web (2016-Present)

1 “Away From Keyboard,” obviously.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.


  1. Very sharp observation about the mindsets the last couple of years, and that the pendulum now swings back for more balance, as it always does. However, I sense between the lines what I personally believe – it swings back, but to a higher level of complexity which is what came out of that large release of hippie-energy, kinda like Steve Jobs when he and Wozniak meshed together Zen and personal computers. 

    • Yeah, I think the “hippie phase” is a must. It’s fueled by much needed passion. However, hippiesm has a way of turning into dogma as the euphoria wears off and gurus battle each other on who’s the guru mojo while the world around them picks up the pace.


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