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Social Media is NOT that Important

Social Media is NOT that Important

Social media never sleeps; therefore PR is a lifestyle, not a profession.  This pushes responsiveness to the top of the priority list.

In my heart of hearts, I believe this is true, but I’ve also come to believe that social media is entering a period of normalization.  Where expectations were exceedingly high — beyond possible — these are now starting to normalize.

And normalization is sorely needed.

The compulsion to respond immediately with top-of-mind thoughts is slowly ceding to responding in a timely fashion, but with greater consideration.  Social media can wait.

Last week, I had just left traffic court, because, unfortunately, I have a heavy foot, which is one of my many faults.  I was stopped at a red light that is malfunctioning and traffic was backed up in a serious way.

I’m also late for a meeting so was literally calling my boss (on a hands-free device of course) to tell him I wouldn’t make it.

Simultaneously, several prominent social media elites were having a Twitter conversation going that mentioned me and so my iPhone was flashing alerts imploring me to pay attention to Twitter.

Meanwhile, some crazy old guy, impatient with the light, bumps my fender trying to squeeze by in a space not nearly wide enough to fit his vehicle (remember: I was stopped at a light) and then proceeds to drive off — leaving the scene of an accident.

It all happened at once and what did I feel?  I felt like I needed to respond to Twitter first.  Talk about misaligned priorities!

I’ve been in far more dire situations to recognize the value of what’s important.  Yet, I feel so passionately about my work, that I  can hardly bear the thought of an email, a tweet, or a comment that calls for a response.

I know this is ridiculous. It can wait.  I know I’m not the only person that feels this way.  I know I’m not unique.

Try putting your mobile phone in your trunk while you drive to work one morning as an experiment.  Watch the traffic around you and just how many people are focused on their phones at 65 MPH.  It is endemic and it’s absurdly dangerous.

People are literally dying over tweets.  People are literally putting their lives at risk to answer emails.

Social media is NOT that important.  Social media can wait.

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Photo credit: Pixabay (CC0 1.0

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13 Responses

  1. First of all, you scare me. It’s one thing to be an adrenaline junkie (I am), but an entirely different thing to put your life at risk every time you go out! Jeez Louise.
    That said, we have all felt this way about social media. I remember a time when I would get so stressed out if I couldn’t respond to tweets or FB updates in an hour or less. I would frantically check during breaks at meetings or the second I got off a stage. And weekends? I was on there constantly. But this year I decided was the year of focus and I had to do what was important to me, not to everyone else. Now I view social media as I do the phone – it’s there for my convenience, not yours.

    1.  @ginidietrich I’m a stickler for safety checks, Gini.  Some of my extracurricular activities might seem extreme, but they are always conducted with great care and attention to detail.  As for social media, I really like you phrase, “it’s there for my convenience, not yours.”  

  2. PaulRobertsPAR

    Good stuff, Frank. I do think we are starting to get to that normalization period. Maybe slowly, but we are getting there. I for one, just recently changed all my phone settings so that I don’t get every Tweet, post, email immediately. While I’m not jumping out of a plane anytime soon, I do hear you.

    1.  @PaulRobertsPAR Oh, yes, Paul the phone settings are critical.  I keep meaning to write a post about that — I’ve done something similar — and guess what?  It brought my stress level down dramatically.  I still have a few — as you can see — but I might just shut them down to…you’ve got me thinking.  

  3. Nice PSA Frank. When your social behavior endangers the well being of others or yourself it begins to to take on the persona of a social disease infecting entire communities. Sometimes a ‘chill pill’ is just what the doctor would order.

    1.  @annelizhannan Thanks Anneliz; this is really becoming a problem.  I remember about the year 2000, being on the campus of American University and suddenly, overnight, it seemed everyone had a cell phone.  I feel this is the same way, suddenly, when we look around on the road, everyone seems to have their noses buried in smart phones while driving.  It’s crazy!

      1.  @Frank_Strong I remember a recent post about ‘distracted injuries’ (yes, now a term)  stating how the ED visits at hospitals were increasing from people getting hurt while walking with their devices. Falling off curbs, walking into poles, walking into doors resulting in knee, ankle, eye injuries.  At first you want to giggle at the absurdity but when you think about the healthcare problems we have it is not so funny. Think about the workmen’s comp costs also with loss of work due to poor personal judgment!

        1.  @annelizhannan Distracted?  Sounds like a euphemism  for dummies.  The modern day Charlie Brown wouldn’t even kick Lucy’s football because he’s too busy muddling with his phone!

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  5. Seeing as how I am late to the conversation, you can see that I’ve drastically scaled back my social media usage as of lately. It was hard at first, but I had to really prioritize my time at work for my job (where I was recently promoted) and not on fielding tweets and scanning my Google Reader for new posts like an obessive compulsive.
    I think we need a self-help book like “I’m OK, You’re OK” for the social media junkies!

  6. ConnieCermak1

    I read your blog a few days ago and decided to sit on it a while just for the sake of fighting my desire to respond too quickly.  Talk about a challenge in social patience! I wasn’t even sure I could do it, but what I found in the process was that by waiting, and thinking, and not responding, I was truly able to formulate a better response. And here in lies the rub. God forbid we should hold off on the incoming notifications and risk losing an undefined opportunity, or worse, having our numbers stagnate as a result. Ouch! Many of us are so concerned with providing our clients with a smashing ROI that we sometimes mistake immediacy with efficiency and in rare cases, even authenticity. 
    Now, to our defense, because I too am an addict, many articles have been written that prove that our bodies cannot decipher tech time. In fact, our bodies were designed to respond to the rhythms in nature. Even chronological time is something that humans invented and acclimated to by way of a clock. But the invention of digital was the beginning of throwing our brains out of sync and as a result, we’re becoming addicted to the pace of technology, and for the adrenaline junkies like Frank (and me) it’s even harder to fight something that’s physiologically invisible. This explains why we tell our friends that we’ll be there “in a minute” while we “quickly” check our e-mail. Two hours later…don’t tell me you haven’t done this? Right? 
    I love social media enough to make a career of it. And though I enjoy it immensely,  I spend my off hours teaching teens the risks of “teching” and driving and how to use Facebook and Twitter to enhance their future, rather than ruin it.  Like Carla Gentry said in a recent post in response to Frank, many wonderful things are happening as a result of Social Media, but like Frank said,  not only are we risking lives when we Tech and Drive, but we’re also risking future generations and their ability to resolve conflict through meaningful conversation. We’re showing our children by way of example that Facetime is an App, and eye to eye contact is something you see in a mirror.  We’re growing a future of children who are distanced and uncommunicative and aren’t connecting by way of intonation and empathy.  So do I think that Social Media is Not that Important? On the contrary. I think it’s vitally important, because it is most assuredly NOT going away. 

    1.  @ConnieCermak1 Yeah, I was with you until the last two sentences.  Interestingly enough, in my view, everything you wrote supports the antithesis of that conclusion.  Clearly social media is a viable means to communicate.  Certainly it matters in business, or in whatever organization we might belong.  Of course, it’s not going away.  However it’s a matter of priorities. Social media at the expense of friends?  Of children?  Of the things that make us most of all human?  I think not.  Yet in many cases it does.  That’s backwards.  We’ve got to master the compulsion.  Perhaps the headline should have read “Social media is not THAT important.”

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