Double Rainbow Guy asked “What does this meeeaaaannnnn?”

If you don’t know what this title means, check out this video.

Who knows if he ever figured out what it meant. But here’s what it means to me: If there was ever any question that social media will dramatically change communication and what people pay attention to, there shouldn’t be any question after Microsoft created an advertisement around this guy.

I’ve been slow to embrace the social media thing. I wanted to believe that social media is just the latest trend to sell marketing seminars to marketers. I thought people are playing it up because putting “social media” in a webinar title is a surefire way to gather lots of leads because you know people are gonna sign up for it. I thought it’s just something the younger generation does — you know, MySpace and all. Facebook and Twitter came along and I thought they’d just flame out like lots of new things do. But social media doesn’t stop. It keeps spreading.

At first I thought of social media like dandelions and crabgrass — a distraction from the real stuff I want to do online. I don’t want to use weekend hours battling weeds, I want to garden the flowers and herbs, grow and pick the tomatillos and make salsa verde. I’m still figuring social media out, how to get out of it what I want. I did find the best salsa verde recipe on a blog. But before today, I thought I could get away with ignoring social media. I thought we could choose to minimize its impact on our lives. But something about the Double Rainbow Guy ad clicked — there is no ignoring social media. Ever. It will weave itself into the air of our everyday lives. Like pollen. It’s never going away, and we must all live with it.

Now, imagine the big change that the invention of automobiles brought to our whole culture and way of living … for a moment imagine the changes brought by radio and then TV to society …

Many of us don’t need to imagine the changes brought by cable, desktop computers, the Internet, wireless, cell phones. We’ve lived that. The typewriters gathering dust in corners of basements and the unused phone and cable jacks in walls tell us everything we need to know. For each of these changes, something was left behind while we were all swept forward to the next thing. Really, we don’t have much choice if we want to stay connected. I realized today social media belongs on this list now. There’s no escaping the change it will bring.

What was it about the Double Rainbow Guy that clicked? I was not one of the 12-13 million people who watched his video when it went viral. Missed that one. I never heard of him until yesterday when they were talking about him and Microsoft on the radio during morning drive time. Then Chicago radio stations were talking more during afternoon drive time. Then I tripped across a story about the Microsoft ad on a big media site, maybe CNN.com. They all talked about Double Rainbow Guy like we should know who he is. There’s no escaping Paris Hilton and ICanHasCheezburger memes but Double Rainbow Guy? Who is this guy??? Can we get through 2010 without hearing about him? Apparently not. So now really curious, I Googled the double raindow video and the ad, fully aware of free publicity Microsoft is getting about this ad. This Microsoft blog describes how the ad idea got rolling. And now today, my attitude about social media forever changed.

The thing is, how many corporate marketers are right now, while you read this, scouring YouTube for their own Double Rainbow Guy? And how many people are taping crazy things right now hoping they’ll get their claim to fame too? You know it’s a lot. Yep, big changes ahead …

What does this mean for public health and how we communicate?

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