Friday, December 30, 2011

All this social media is doing my head in!

I knew the attraction of social media had got a bit out of hand when I failed to keep two chat conversations running simultaneously (one on G+ the other on Facebook) while making witty repartee with a friend regarding her latest droll status update. I know for some people that’s nothing, but this is me, the person who was sneered at for not having used a computer not that many years ago!

It had started off innocently enough. A friend and I were arranging to meet for coffee. We’re both introverts and appreciate the ability to arrange get togethers without the need to talk on the phone –  Facebook to the rescue!

The other conversation was on G+ with someone I haven’t met, but with whom I share thoughts and links on the environment and sustainable energy. English is not his first language, so I like to think carefully about what I want to write so there are as few misunderstandings as possible, hence my style of writing is more formal and “correct”, with no slang. I need to concentrate for that!

I was doing ok for a while, but the toggling between links, people and social networks began to play havoc with my brain.

Was I arranging to meet for a coffee locally, or had I got mixed up and perhaps arranged to meet someone in a far distant land, complete with ice and snow, for a coffee in his hometown? Definitely time to call it quits!

It’s said (by those who say they're in the know) that it’s important for businesses, and particularly solepreneurs, to have a strong presence on line. The more you want to be seen to be an expert in a particular field, the more they encourage active participation in a range of social media settings.

But, let’s be honest about social media, it can be a whirlwind of aimless chatter and links to content of dubious quality that have the ability to distract us from what it is we want to do and achieve. It can be like 'Whistling into the wind'.

“They” say we should be on Twitter. I’m trying, really I am, to take Twitter seriously, to give it a fair go and make something meaningful of it. But, honestly, whenever I take a peek it feels like I’m opening a door and staring down a hurricane. It’s frenetic! I doubt would anyone notice if my meagre contribution disappeared. I’ve chosen to keep it though, for the links that come in, and of course when Adam Hills has done his Mess Around shows, it’s fun – now there’s someone who uses Twitter to advantage!

Personally, though, I sputter on, occasionally making tweets: Little reminders about slowing down, making time for exercise, uplifting sayings and mindful exercises. If anyone drops by they won’t be overwhelmed with a barrage of data or links. If the reminders help someone else to pause for a moment, then that’s great. If not, meh, there’s no damage done.

I use Facebook as I mentioned mainly for family and friends. A few other people have snuck in, and that’s ok. I like the ease of sharing happy snaps and informal tidbits – the sort of things I choose not to share with professional colleagues!

Linked In is my professional social media hangout. It is what I use for professional contacts, for catching up with ‘lost’ colleagues and seeing who is up to what in my field of Career Development. My Linked In groups are where I can ask for advice, share experiences, comment and interact with other professionals in my field. It's great for that.

I’ve used Linked In to assist some clients by encouraging them to revamp their profiles so it’s there as part of their professional presentation. It’s a good place for them to quickly add experiences and highlight achievements. Having a recent photo is important, and potential employers often check for consistency between your resume and your Linked In profile.

And then, there’s G+
Oh dear.
G+ is the current bane of my life. It’s where I meet and interact with people who reflect my diverse interests.
Different clusters of interests = different circle.

It’s certainly not a time waster, because that would imply that it’s frivolous or petty. No doubt there are places there you can look at cute cats, diverting dogs and a whole range of well, yes, timewasters. But it’s also an amazing opportunity to talk to, debate with, grumble to, be inspired by, and encourage, people from many, many countries, from Iceland to the Ukraine, from India to Canada.

I wasn’t sure how to use G+ at first. I’d been invited to join back in the very early days, and recognised that it was different to FB, but couldn’t quite see how to use it. No family, no friends, and only one blog buddy – there didn’t seem to be much opportunity for interaction. I didn’t know how to find people, or what was expected. I wasn’t aware of any tutorials way back then!

Thankfully I’d filled out my profile with some useful information and someone who knew the ropes had filtered profiles for people with similar interests. He was starting a meditation hangout and invited me to join. Unfortunately due to the timezone difference I couldn’t make it, but suddenly I saw that G+ was a whole lot more than a FB lookalike, and with amazing potential.

Through that first contact with a ‘stranger’ a whole range of people with diverse interests emerged. Photography, art, astronomy, social conscience, science, blogging and the environment: I’ve met people I couldn’t have had access to in my normal life. I’ve been stretched, challenged, learnt about SOPA and all sorts of other things, all from the comfort of my laptop.

I enjoy the depth of interaction and that fact that an unsubstantiated comment could well be met by “Can you cite a reference for that please”. WOW! Because of the beauty and ease of use of the circles, it’s easy to keep interests and posts separated and relevant to my different interests - joy oh joy!

I doubt that I’ve explored much beyond the surface layer - maybe I never will. But if you haven’t had a look at G+, I’d encourage you to dip a toe in, spend some time acclimatising and see if it works for you. Remember to say hi when you do!

How do you use social media? What works for you?



Pearson Report said...

Hi Sue,

It is amazing how many ways there are for us to socialize via technology. You certainly have taken full advantage of it! I think that's wonderful!

I confess...I only blog! Other than a cell phone (an old one at that) I can be reached by regular telephone, email or on my blog.

I have been asked, by many of my business acquaintances, to join Linkedin, but, truth be told, I don't see a reason for me to be part of it. So, I resist!

Having read this post, Sue, I will try to be more open minded when looking at these advancements in social media technology.

Thanks for sharing this!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I continue to resist FaceBook, mostly because I'm involved in enough right now. Blogging is my primary social site, although I'm also on Google+ and Goodreads. Twitter I'm still learning, but getting better!

sue said...

Jenny, it's mind boggling! I feel like I've barely scratched the surface, and think I might have spread myself a bit thin trying out the different media.

Re LinkedIn, some of my colleagues use it instead of a web site and get clients to refer to that for the services they provide. It can be useful, but they all take time, which seems to be in precious short supply!

Let me know if/when you join, I'll be there to say 'Hi!"

Alex, My biased comment re FB woud be you can probably live without it! You put so much work into your books and blog it might just be a distraction without benefit. Good to see you on G+ though :) I can see that for authors, Twitter could be an advantage, still not sure how I can use it.

Have a wonderful New Year! Have fun - keep safe!

Better is Possible said...

Great post. I am slightly addicted to facebook, primarily because it is the quickest way to keep track of my children who live all around the province.
I've recently opened a twitter account and...I don't get it! But now that I have one I'm reluctant to close it. OCD!
I also have a LinkedIn account - I tell myself it's for when I retire and work at building my private counselling practice. - We'll see.
Google+ oh yes, I have that as well. Not a clue why or what for. But you've tweaked my interest. I shall go take another peek. In fact I just may tweet that I am going explore Google +.
Sometimes I long for the day of yore...a simpler time...
Best wishes for 2012.

Better is Possible said...

One more thing. I just tweeted your post. Hope you don't mind!

Mitch said...

Being on social media platforms is one thing; being overwhelmed is another. The way I see it is that if one has any business interests whatsoever they need to be on at least some of these because that's the way the world is going. If you're only looking for pleasure, then you choose whatever feels good for you.

The last time I got caught up was probably back in 1998 when I ended up in a chat room and tried to carry on a conversation with 19 people at a time. Did it for 2 hours before I quit, was winded and never did it again. lol said...

I use all of it except g+. It's all good for networking.

Have a wonderful New Year, Sue.

sue said...

Firstly, Happy New Year! Here I was, thinking everyone would be out partying the night away and I've woken up to find comments :) Thankyou!

Carol, FB is wonderful for keeping up with children and other family and friends. I love the ease and informality of it for that. You made me giggle re Twitter and OCD, perhaps that's what it is with me, or the thought that I might be missing out on something worthwhile. LinkedIn, definitely worth it for private work, I've also got a one line (free) ad in our yellow pages that brings in clients. I'll have a look for you on G+, and thanks for tweeting the post, WHEEE!!
Certainly life was simpler, but I do love the ability to talk with people around the world. I feel a real sense of community which I never expected in my wildest dreams.

Mitch, Hi! Thanks for dropping by.
Oh. My. Goodness! 2 hours and 19 people - that sounds worse than a cocktail party! My meagre few people doesn't come close - I'll plead my age! I like that you can remember the year it happened, it must have been a memorable experience LOL.

One of the things I find astounding is the number of my clients (who might be seeing me for resume assistance, finding a new job, or applying for tertiary courses) who lack confidence in using the internet. I'm not just talking the older ones either, the younger ones as well. A few google me, or look for my web site - most don't, and many need quite a lot of support in learning how to apply for courses/jobs on-line. It's as if the technology is a closed book for them. A few, in contrast, are so fast it makes my head swim - but they're the exception rather than the rule. I think your field might be a bit different, and more computer savvy overall?

Robyn - it's interesting, I wonder if different fields find different media more or less useful...I know some writers have said Linked In isn't useful for them, yet I find the groups good, and know I'm likely to meet the people at conferences. I think I'll take a poll at the next conference see who uses what, and how they use it.

Have a wonderful New Year everyone!


David L Macaulay said...

This is true Sue and I find it all becomes so bland because nobody has the time to think through their responses

sue said...

that's so true David, I'm having a complete rethink about what I'm going to do in the future. I've culled a lot of blogs and am making less comments on those I do visit. Once it gets to the "I woz 'ere" stage it's rather pointless - although I do like to get comments!