My eighty five year old uncle is the most avid technophile I know. He plays with all forms of digital media, including social media platforms such as the Facebook and LinkedIn. I find his mindset to be in total contrast to a majority of mid- to end- career colleagues I work with, who seem to be unbelievably social media phobic! I can’t help but compare the two and wonder why.
Last week I had the privilege of being a participant at a regional workshop where some thirty plus colleagues were asked to share their views on using social media. Needless to say, the responses were quite interesting. The fear of the unknown seemed to loom large among participants who I felt gave various other reasons to cover up this fear.
“I don’t have time”, “it’s a complete waste of time”, “what’s this big deal about using social media”, “it can be counterproductive”, “I am not interested in other people’s things” and “I don’t know how to use it for my professional development” were some of the key concerns I heard being aired as barriers to entry into the world of social media.
Being a very active social media user I thought I should share my experiences candidly…
I use different platforms for different reasons and engagement. Facebook for me is definitely for social networking with family and friends. It’s amazing how many ‘long lost friends’ I have since discovered and continue to network with to date, thanks to Facebook. LinkedIn is more for professional interactions, while Twitter is to reach a wider audience beyond my comfort zone of Facebook friends. I use my blog to express personal thoughts on ‘psycho-social tidbits’ that affect me.
Through the use of these platforms, I like to be myself and project what I stand for both personally and professionally, because I strongly believe that I am who I am irrespective of which hat I wear, when. My beliefs and values would not change with the change of hats. I have always spoken my mind on causes and issues close to my heart and that’s what I try to do even through social media, to the best of my ability. I write, share and comment on issues that I believe will interest others, inform and educate my friends and followers. I get into discussions on social issues, try to be a catalyst for change and try to influence friends and family with views on issues that concern me, be they personal, social, professional or political. Of course I have to be mindful of my professional responsibilities towards my employer at all times. In turn, I broaden my knowledge, meet interesting people, pick up new ideas, learn and benefit from likeminded friends and followers…the possibilities are endless. The experience is gratifying.
So what’s the fear? If one is concerned about personal privacy, one can use social media only to share and exchange professional information. LinkedIn and Twitter are amazing platforms for this. In today’s context, if a professional does not have a LinkedIn profile, he /she may almost seem outdated!
We have to move with the times. The way people communicate is changing rapidly and if we don’t get onto this bus that’s parked and waiting to take us to unknown domains, we will surely be left behind. For me, social media is a vehicle to go to places I have not travelled before. Having said that, like a map or a GPS unit we always keep handy, it’s good to know the paths you can travel, the friends you can invite on the journey, the possible no go areas, while always being mindful of your destination.
It has nothing to do with your age, generation or current job. Some have been early adopters and some may be laggards. Whichever classification you may fall into, my request to you is “just get on the bus, enjoy the ride.” My eighty five year old uncle surely does. So will you!