I hear it all the time: “I tried to find you on all the social media sites and you were nowhere to be found.” That is not by chance. While I run a online marketing firm that has a social media practice, it isn’t something that I subscribe to as an individual. All of my friends, co-workers, and professional colleagues partake, even my 12 year old son lives through his Facebook page, but I have rationalized that it is just not for me.
Firstly, I think there is a misconception that not participating in social media means that I’m not social. Quite the contrary – I keep in touch very frequently with friends, family, former colleagues – through email, phone calls and visits. To broadcast my status of what I’m doing, where I’m going and with whom feels invasive to me. And certainly not something I want to share broadly.
Next, I have an obsessive personality flaw and I know that I would get sucked in – voyeuristically following friends, former boyfriends, people I hardly know that have friend-ed me – wasting time that I barely have now to do the things I want to do… like call friends on the phone. I could see wasting endless hours just looking around, commenting, checking out pictures of people whom I really wouldn’t be interested in otherwise.
It’s like golf for me. Everyone says I would be great at golf. It is methodical, requires precision, relies on angles and geometry – like my beloved Tetris – but truly, if I had 4 hours to spare, is that REALLY what I want to spend my time doing?
Finally, I think that social media actually blurs the line between personal and professional lives. The first time I realized this was in an executive staff meeting at my former job. The President of the company asked the head of HR to check MySpace and Facebook pages of a potential hire. This was 3.5 years ago and the concept was new. What it did was open this candidate’s personal life up to their prospective employer – but they put their personal life up for public viewing including posts and pictures of them enjoying their leisure time – something I don’t personally think your employer needs to see. I know… you can decline friends, segment personal and professional pages, be careful about your posts – but I don’t want to run the risk. And how does one tactfully decline invitations of potential friends without offending someone. Do I say no to all of my employees and co-workers or can I be selective? It just feels wrong.
I believe we are raising a generation that is weak in their interpersonal skills. They don’t have to have conversations, they IM. They don’t have to sit across from someone and look them in the eye, they email. They text in code and in acronyms. We are doing them a disservice if we don’t inform them of the repercussions of posting thousands of photos of themselves – sometimes in compromising positions – that can be viewed by professional contacts. We need to teach them the art of interviewing, of live selling, of conversation and the etiquette of picking up the phone rather than shooting off an electronic message.
Sorry folks, I’ll leave Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn to others and I’ll choose to handwrite thank you notes, pick up the phone to call and meet in person if I want to truly connect with my social circle.
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- Mergers, Failure, and Responsibility  - January 7, 2010
- First Blogging, Now Lifelogging  - September 28, 2009
- It’s Not the Same Old Third Grade  - September 11, 2009