Can people and businesses succeed if they reject social software?

Facebook sells your data to advertisers. LinkedIn sells it to recruiters. Google sells it to anyone they can find. Oh, and your cell phone company? They’re totally gouging you.

When you look at the ways technology companies treat us, it’s easy to feel frustrated, manipulated, and dejected. You could probably save a ton of time and money by disconnecting entirely from the world of social technology. But what would that cost you?

social software facebook

(Unfortunately I just discovered, so I can’t look at stock photos without giggling.) Flickr/West McGowan

Would you miss out on professional opportunities if you weren’t on LinkedIn? Would you look dumb if Twitter didn’t keep you on top of the 24-hour news cycle? When was the last time you were invited to a party in person, and not on Facebook? 

Forget Angry Birds—could you make it through your morning commute without having your inbox in your hand? How much more stressed out would you be if your kids couldn’t contact you 24/7? 

Technology refusal” is what researchers call the choice to avoid certain products, not because of their cost or availability, but because of privacy concerns or moral qualms.

You can’t participate in culture if you refuse to participate. 

Society exists where people interact. If most of your social group meets on a website, or through a technology, and you refuse to take part, then you miss much of the dialogue. 

For individuals, the cost of non-participation is mostly social. Technology refusers might miss a few parties. They might find themselves on the outside of inside jokes. Their friends might even grow to resent them a little bit.

For businesses, though, the cost of avoiding technology is often financial, and it can be significant.

If you own a flower shop in Detroit, but have no internet presence, a potential customer who googles “flower shop in Detroit” will never know that you exist. If none of your competitors are online either, then maybe she’ll find you in the phonebook—no big deal.

But if every flower shop between New York and Chicago has a website, a Facebook page, a 1-800 number and a Twitter feed full of discounts and advice, you don’t stand a chance.

Small business human resources management can be challenging. It’s even harder if your competitors adopt better technology than you, faster than you. 

Social software gives you an edge when you’re the first to use it. When you’re the last though, you end up being the guy who didn’t get invited to the party. Unfortunately, this time the party is business success.

Even Amish furniture has embraced new technologies. Why haven’t you?


Workplaces Tribes is an HR blog from TribeHR. TribeHR uses and makes social software. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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