finding balance for social media interaction: the human factor

Posted on April 12, 2011

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Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Times have changed, no kidding. Social interaction only a decade ago was about face-to-face dialogue with so many dynamics attached to it. You were required to be a social entrepreneur and a “people-person”. You kept Rolodex cards. You had to dress to impress and your personality projection was just as important as your character. It was about how many people’s hands you shook and how much people liked you – in person.

This is no longer the case. At first it wasn’t so obvious. The world was not quite collaborating yet. Internet with dial-up connections and exorbitant monthly costs limited participation for folks in places like Europe and South America. But the past five years found the world on an accelerated learning curve that brought everyone up to speed to where now you can Skype in the middle of the Amazon jungle. That is simply huge.

Social relations evolved and something quite peculiar happened: we all became equal. Gone are the days when a CEO or SME were unreachable. Now anyone with an opinion is able to connect to business/industry leaders and interact without the stigma of bad taste in fashion or lack of suitable connections and country club memberships. The social world as we knew it became a hierarchy of followers, tweeters and SEO positioning. Simply put: the one with the most followers wins. Not to mention personal relationships. I suspect the online dating business is highly profitable these days.

With this equality came a redefinition of who we are and what we can accomplish. Stripped from all visual contact with the world, it’s just you and your pc…and possibilities are endless. My question would be if given this new scenario – which will only become the status quo as opposed to the exception – do we continue interacting as before or will that change too? Are we shying away from visiting people and calling them up because it’s better to text or tweet them? How much of the human connection are we willing to give up? It scares me to think that we’ll forget the simple wonders of human interaction because we have “evolved”.

There is something intangible and priceless about walking into a room and commanding attention. About giving someone a “real” hug instead of a little brown bear emoticon. Or calling someone we love on the phone for New Year’s Eve instead of texting them with good wishes. On a business level, social media is priceless, but so are human relations and networking. Let´s learn how to balance it all.

I think the best way to tackle this loss of humanity is to use social media to our advantage. Let it not become the only way we communicate but one of our many options. Let it be exactly what it is…another tool. We control it, not the other way around. If you do interact regularly and have a busy virtual life, don’t attach yourself to your cell phone texting people during lunch or other mingling times, which is outright rude. Find a balance and leverage technology, instead of allowing it to rule your world. And don’t forget that people are always more important than things. So next time you’re at a funeral and someone pings you, please don’t start texting. Just let it ride…I promise, you can always answer it later…

Posted in: Communications