Monday, June 27, 2011

Concerned about social media and technology? Maybe a good idea.

What often is missing in diving into social media activities is 'actually thinking' about what we're doing and reflecting on what our values are and why we're using these services/ tools etc.  

How is doing what we do in this space helping out at home, at work and within our community, in the grandstands watching your kids play sports?  Are you better for it? Are you sure?  Really! Just because you can use it doesn't mean you should!  That's a great phrase to take to heart especially if you haven't actually thought about why you're using these tools.

William Buist at the Societal Web posted about this issue and raised some very interesting points. As he says social media  gives us new and heretofore unforseen ways to communicate with each other, and its problematic.  Just because we can "update our status" while at a meeting, or "text friends or have long drawn out phone calls" while at our sons and daughters ball games is this multi-tasking positive behavior? The technology allows us to do this but should we do this?  

I know this dates me, but my dad and mom (pre cell phone days) actually watched me and participated in my games, or helped out coaching.  Now I do the same and watch all kinds of parents, older sisters and brothers and younger work their "smart" devices at the game. Their bodies stand facing the play but they're  far away, disconnected from the visceral present.  If this is the "positive example" my generation of parents  is truly capable of I'm thinking this isn't so good.  

Recently I plucked one such parent off of his phone he'd been wearing by the side of his face for the past five games and asked him to be a third base coach for a few innings while I umped.  The guy was super animated and really involved with his kid for the first time I remember all season.  I learned this guy has so much too offer the kids, the team and our community.  But he sits back and uses his "smart phone".  I know its tranquilizing, almost narcotic in its influence.  I want an Ipad too!  But I'm going to wait until I get my head around this issue more clearly.

And now that we're so deep into this how do sensibly tame this addictive behavior?  Or does it (meaning social media) control us, especially if we don't take the time now and again to think about it critically?  Often, we're missing the fact we can have a face to face conversation, or a phone call rather than Tweeting about something to someone or Facebooking it.  Or doing another LinkedIn update.

Why not go to someone's house and have dinner and connect..?  Or taking a walk with someone and talking.  You can't easily do a Goto meeting session or AppleFace Time while walking can you?  It's hard to do two things at once?  But yet we's exhausting to multi-task.

Part of this is temptation of the new and the cool.  It's the joyful exuberance of using our new tools, the smartphones, tablets du Jour, the apps and buying into the "lifestyle" choices being shown us in the advertising we see where ever the media source.  However, there's relatively few voices stating "let's think about this" and examine what we're doing collectively etc. leading to setting up a goals and values discussion and learning how to recognize what's missing in these new interactions.

What kinds communities are we really building, families, teams etc. when social media seems to an important aspect holding everything together?  Caring about this is important to our communal well-being.  What do you think?  How is social media impacting your life?  Think back five or ten years ago, how much time were you spending talking face to face to people versus today?  What would happen if your smart phone disappeared for two weeks? Or your iPAD?  Would it change your life for the better? Or the worse?

Remember, just because you can use the latest and greatest tech gadgets and software services doesn't mean you should.  Take a moment to think about it every once in a while.  Talk it over with  your family, your coworkers etc.  You'll find there will be lots to discuss.

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