Social Media Or Mayhem?

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I am a reluctant observer when it comes to social media. I haven't decided if it is because I am getting old, cynical or both.

In fact, I think social media is actually making people less social, and here’s why. I begrudgingly put up a Facebook page a few months back because CRN has a page and I thought it was important for me to link to it. I was told that I would get a rash of invites from high school friends wanting to connect (which I did), but I was reticent to mix my private life with my professional life.

Three months into the process, I reach out less than before because I am getting these updates on Facebook. I may know more about a broader group of contacts, but it certainly isn’t making me more social. It is actually making me lazy in terms of making real emotional connections with real friends. What’s more, it is turning me into a voyeur with my other “friends” -- who are really just acquaintances. (C’mon, you, too, must have checked out photos of old high school classmates. It can’t only be me.)

Apparently, I have sort of an odd approach when it comes to LinkedIn as well. I have been using LinkedIn for years, but I have been careful about whom I accept as a connection. I wanted this to be my personal place to connect with business professionals. I don’t have 500-plus connections, but it has been purposeful.

Recently a 20- or 30-something social media consultant told me I needed to connect always and often. I resisted because I thought I knew best how to manage my contacts. But I realized I was making assumptions about someone else and their connections. And perhaps the least likely person may be someone who can help me solve a business problem.

I have also come to realize that the longer I stick my head in the sand, the farther behind I become. Case in point: Twitter is starting to look like a foreign language to me. I know I must Tweet more so that I understand how the next generation is using technology.

Now back to the getting “old” part. I remember the Windows 3.0 launch. My first feature story was about migrating from 286 to 386 machines. It really doesn’t seem that long ago we were getting faxed press releases and there was no such thing as a browser, never mind Google. I have evolved with technology, but I remember life without it. For the 20-somethings, technology and the Web is a way of life.

Our CRN Community Editor Brian Kraemer is a 20-something, and he thinks a lot differently about social media than I do. He says that social media is his heads-up display that keeps him abreast of the news and information. It comes to him and he can turn it on or off. In fact, he jokes with his friends that they have already had half a conversation when they meet in person because of social media. And then they can pick up the conversation live. My friends never say that to me.

As the older-generation business leaders, we need to understand their mind-set. They are the future. And whether you like it or not, they are using social media in the workplace. The onus is on you to understand the capabilities, listen to how they are using it and then bring your business acumen to apply it to your business model.

While I have been dipping my toe into social media and this new way of thinking, I am now going to dive in. I encourage you to do so as well.

BACKTALK: Kelley Damore is VP, Editorial Director for Everything Channel. Reach her via e-mail at Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. She will accept your invite.

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