I have mixed feelings about my involvement with blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I read a stream of seemingly trivial messages about personal frustrations, eating preferences, vacation details or plans for the evening. This leads me to wonder if social networks encourage self-promoting narcissism and superficial thinking in some people. Research shows that email and short posts alter the neurostructure of our brains and an August 2 New York Times article (“I tweet, therefore I am”) shows how social technology molds our personalities. Of course, many people thrive on their steams of messages. I find that they can be intrusive and annoying.
So why don’t I dump my technological connections and retreat to traditional ways of doing things? Here’s the answer. Despite the down side of social media, the positive applications are huge. Understanding and using social technology is important for:
- Disseminating Information quickly and broadly. A friend in China blogs to almost 1.2 million people every day.
- Evangelism and ministry. One example: occasionally my Chinese friend drops evangelistic messages into his blogs.
- Counseling and coaching. The Internet is changing how people helping, people building and training are done.
- Education. On line interaction, video clips, downloads, courses, and learning projects are standard in progressive schools. And the possibilities keep expanding.
- Prayer. Recently, a friend’s 18 month daughter fell into their swimming pool. As she was flown to a children’s hospital a Facebook alert mobilized a huge prayer effort within minutes. Is this why she’s fine now?
- Leadership. Charlene Li new book Open Leadership: How Social Technology can Transform the Way You Lead is worth reading. Li writes, “Leadership is about relationships, and because social technologies are changing relationships, leadership also needs to change….Leadership takes on a different dimension in a connected, networked world.” Effective leaders must engage.
- Marketing, promotion and visibility. Ask any publisher how books are promoted today. Social media probably tops most lists. In politics social media still market President Obama.
- Damage control. One post or U-Tube video can devastate a company or reputation within hours. A fast response is critical.
Love, hate or fear it – social technology cannot be ignored. Please click on comment to give your reaction.