social media

Social Media – For Good or Ill?

It’s been three months now since I committed to launching myself fully into the social media world. I am blogging, tweeting, posting, and linking like a good ‘un and making some great connections ….. or am I?

While I am totally convinced of the potential value of social networking, I have started to get some uncomfortable feelings about its potential for harm and the damage it can do at an individual and global level. Only this week Stephen Fry had a moment of doubt about how good twittering is for his mental health.

I know by posting this to a blog I am likely to be talking to people who are sold on social media so I am interested to hear your responses to my following musings.

1. My social media company kept re-iterating to me that “it’s about being social” and that if I don’t keep posting to facebook regularly, “friends” will assume I am not interested in them and stop following me. All the posts I am seeing on Facebook are upbeat, chirpy and superficial. Great! I am all for demonstrating a positive attitude. What happens when people aren’t feeling positive, and can’t tell anyone because that isn’t what it’s about?

2. I watch people who are apparently spending their time pootling off to Paris, bungy jumping in Brisbane, and living it up in Las Vegas! and that’s all on a Wednesday afternoon. How does this affect people who are lonely or isolated and how real is it anyway?

3. I am using Tweetadder to find hundreds of people who are interested in leadership and management and following people who are following me. I thought I wanted to learn from thought leaders in my field and provide free, practical resources to people that follow me.

What is the motivation of twitter users? Are we genuinely wanting to learn from or connect with everyone we follow or is it more like a cacophony of monologues? Are we on an ego trip to show how popular, or credible we are? or are we really just looking to sell our products and services?

4. When I am out and about and seeing people in social groups, or even in team meetings overtly or covertly sending text messages, emailing and twittering I am just willing them to be present where they are, enjoying the people they are with, fully involved in the conversation. Making eye contact for goodness sake!

In summary my concern is that while we are all so hooked on making as many connections and sharing as much information as possible what is happening to real relationships? Are we linking with people but not getting to know people. Are we “friends” with people but not there for them when they need help? I would love to know that social media is being used as an additional resource and not as a replacement for the deep, trusting, confiding relationships that we all need.

What do you think?