Saturday, January 24, 2009

Social Media: Is it Good?

My gut reaction to the explosion of social media like Twitter and Facebook is that they waste time.

Is that true? Certainly it seems like people are displacing old activities in order to spend more time interacting online.

If the displaced activity is watching TV or playing a non-social video game, I guess the interaction FB and Twitter provide is far superior.

But is the base premise even correct? Are people doing less "worthwhile" stuff because of excess connectivity?

Who's to judge what's worthwhile? Humans are inherently social creatures and being social is something that brings most of us happiness simply because of our biology. Thus social interactions, even mediated online, are enjoyable. And we should seek out enjoyment when we can in this life, I believe. It could be in some cases people might forgo actual physical interaction in order to stay home and post to their social media site.

I find it works the opposite; social media sites improve my ability to interact with a wider group of people when I see them in the flesh, if for no other reason than I have already forged a connection with them that is current. I know what they've been up to lately, they know them same with me. We have common points of reference.

Of course, "worthwhile" could be defined as doing your job in a timely manner. Do people who routinely check Facebook do worse in their jobs or more frequently miss deadlines? We require an actual evidence gathering mission with a large sample size rather than anecdotes here. All I can say is that I enjoy checking my social sites a few times a day WITHOUT it becoming an obstacle toward getting my daily work completed.

This does require some mental discipline, I won't lie. But lots of temptations to not do work require mental discipline to a greater or lesser degree, and we've figured out how to manage them--shouldn't be too much harder to figure this one out.

Or so say I.