Tipsheet: Does Social Media Make you Lazy?

Does Social Media Make you Lazy?

The answer is "it depends"… on what type of user you
are.

1) The Early Adopters (younger professionals,
students, tech enthusiasts), use the "channel" of Social media to
develop real relationships. These deepen with – and depend upon – the social
networks themselves for the relationships. Especially when the relationships are
separated by geography and time zones, many of these relationships would never
have even started if not for the Social Media systems themselves. There is no
laziness in this group, as people in this group often consider "real
world" personal contact unnecessary. On the other hand, such a strong
reliance on Social Media sometimes means that they don’t develop the skills
required for interaction using the phone or in-person meetings. (Interestingly,
we no longer spend as much time developing skills such as "penmanship"
nowadays either…)

2) The "Latest Fad" group: This group
jumps on whatever is the latest and greatest, usually for reasons of ego and
inclusion. They may use Social networks to communicate instead of phone and in
person, if only to make the point that they are ahead of the curve (they usually
aren’t). In other words, they may appear lazy, but they want to communicate the
"modern" way.

3) The Opportunists: This group joins because
they see some sort of personal or professional opportunity for using Social
Networks. They are the entrepreneurs and info-peddlars who will do whatever it
takes to sell their wares, so long as it can be done in bulk, doesn’t generate
huge support requirements, and makes them some money. This group prefers
"transactions" to "interactions", and so they prefer to stay
away from time-consuming traditional communications.

4) The Cynics and Realists: This group barely
uses social media, or if they do, it is on a passive basis only. They prefer the
telephone or in-person meetings. No laziness here… unless you consider that by
not participating more actively they are shutting themselves out from
professionally (and personally) relevant information and discussions.

6) Everyone Else: Like any new tool, there is a
honeymoon period where the tool gets overhyped, overused, and often abused. As
the honeymoon ends and the tool develops ubiquity (or dies), people develop an
understanding of how, and where, it can best be used. We’re just now
understanding how to properly use these tools, so there is a fair amount of
exploration – which can be misinterpreted as lazy. Some historical context: Do
you suspect that "social laziness" was also a concern when telephones
were introduced?

Does Social Media make you lazy? No. Tools make it possible, but
people make it happen. If someone is lazy, they’ll always follow the path of
least resistance, no matter the tools at hand.

This week’s action item: It’s tempting to use
Social Media because it’s easy, but before you quickly post/connect/tweet or
follow, consider your end goal. If it’s to develop a relationship, sometimes
personal contact is best. If it’s to start a discussion or probe your network,
consider which of your social networks makes most sense. Your results will be
vastly different if you ask via Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. (And the
responses might be different still if you asked in person.) This week, identify
what type of user you are, and then consider how best to use the tool when you
communicate.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.PersonalBalanceSheet.com/news
to register.

Randall Craig
www.RandallCraig.com
www.PersonalBalanceSheet.com/news

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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