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Social Media: Bane or Blessing?

You hear all time about social media, the new social enterprise, and all of these different other words and phrases about the importance of being social and it got me thinking about how important it is to be social. One of the things that has really helped me over time, is having a lot of people that I’ve been able to keep in touch with to share ideas with, bounce ideas off of, and learn from. It’s been incredibly important to be able to have that resource where when you get a problem of a certain type, you’re able to go to them, ask a few questions, get an answer back, and have a better understanding of the problem. A lot of times this ends up turning into something even more. For instance, I’ve had a lot of projects that have come from just calling to catch up with someone. We get to talking and either they’ve got a solution to a problem I’ve got or they’ve got an opportunity they’re working on that they need help on. The conversation just develops into this good back and forth where you’re able to help each other out and develop a solid friendship in the process as well. I think that that’s something that is becoming more recognized as a useful business practice.

Although I sometimes think the term social media, getting social, or whatever the term is, is referring to the technology only; but I take it to mean the capabilities that the new social technology enables us with such as making it easier to keep in contact with people. With these social media apps you can easily broaden the pool of people that you’re regularly able to interact with. With this broader pool, you’re able to draw on more ideas, more people’s expertise, and broaden what you’re exposed to in general. I know that some people say that while may social media may be broadening the pool, it certainly isn’t deepening it and on a lot of levels I agree with that sentiment. I think one of the things social media will never replace is that face to face experience, the ability to sit down and talk with somebody over a cup of coffee, or just in any casual setting where you’re able to really engage that person. Without that face to face contact you miss body language, tone of voice, and all the other visual and auditory clues which give you a gauge of how someone really feels and you can engage in a conversation from there.

That said, I think social media really is a valuable tool in terms of being able to get the best use of your ability to communicate and to maintain a broader pool of people that you can work with on a regular basis and really enrich your personal and professional life from. I’m curious where other people fall on this subject. This is an area where people can have some really strong opinions. In some cases people think all social media is sort of cheapening and ruining the quality of interactions between people; then there are other people that maybe confuse the technology with actual real human relationships. There is probably a healthy range in the middle where you can not replace your human interactions with relationships and interactions that are exclusively online but learn to effectively supplement your communications to maintain a broader reach and draw on a larger pool of resources. I think in the end social media enables you to live a little bit richer personal and professional life so I’d be really interested to see where people come out on this debate.

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