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: @jerrysilfwer

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 naïveté 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.

The Cover Photo


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