Dyyno, which distributes video content, has partnered with the Miss California USA pageant. Together, they have created the new Social Network Awards for the 2011 contest.
Yes, Miss California USA has gone technologically social. In addition to being talented, poised, and beautiful, the contestants must now be "socially adept." Press release in PDF format states that the two awards will reflect how much the young women are part of the "in crowd" by testing how well they leverage social networking skills. The new Friend?s Choice Award will go to the person who uses Facebook to become the most "liked" contestant. The People?s Choice Award will be bestowed on the contestant who is the most "tweeted" on Twitter.
Dyyno, Justin.tv, and Roku is the team bringing this pageant to the largest number of internet viewers across family TV?s, computers, and smartphones. "Justin.tv provides Miss California USA one of the best video distribution portals on the Web" said Justin Kan, Co-Founder and President. Regarding the new awards, Raj Jaswa, CEO and President of Dyyno said: "In the coming era, in addition to personality and communication skills, Miss California USA and all the contestants need to master their social networking skills."
Of course, success in the business and social world requires the ability to network in the traditional sense – connecting in person at business seminars, social functions, charity projects, community events. There, individuals can meet, face to face, to match up interests and skills with people who enable each other to be successful.
So, how is the contest teaching our young women to be successful? By pitting one contestant against the other and declaring a winner based on how many ‘friends’ or ‘tweets’ they can garner? Isn’t that a tad superficial? Tweets, by definition have no depth, and Facebook friends in the most part, aren?t. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a friend as: "one attached to another by respect or affection," and the Princeton University?s wordnet definition: "a person you know well and regard with affection and trust." How many Facebook friends of a celebrity like Miss California, or even of many everyday people, fit that criteria?
Psychologist Gosia Skorek says about social networks: "This feeling of connectedness and belonging is very important for our self-esteem and life satisfaction." Yet she also points out that: "Users with lower self-esteem, more introvert and less popular in offline communities may strive more to become popular on social networks to compensate."
Exaggerated striving for the most Facebook friends smells of the competition evident in hair pulling on the grammar school playground, or snobbishness in high school cliques. Is this how we teach our young women to have technological moxie? Let?s judge them instead on how well they can write a software program, illustrate computer memory functions, explain the balance sheet of Intel, the implications of AMD spinning off GlobalFoundries, or the factors affecting the stock valuation of Apple. As for testing Facebook and Twitter related skills, have them outline how Facebook, as a business endeavor, came to be, or why Twitter is so prevalent in today?s society, instead of counting the number of superficial friends they have managed to acquire on a social network.
The Miss California USA pageant has registered the largest number of participants in the history of the organization. Let?s take the opportunity to make that count for something positive. Let?s count the musical, dance, speaking, singing, thinking, empathizing, and communicating talents of our young women, and reward them accordingly.