In a recent Forbes blog post about social media destroying real communication, I will have to concede – on two sides.
First, these are real arguments for social media replacing good, old fashioned telephone conversations, two-hour lunch breaks, and cocktail parties, just for the fun of it. If you’ve ever walked into a networking luncheon only to see faces buried in smart phone screens, you’ll know what I mean.
Here are some of my basic concerns. Are future generations going to learn face-to-face meetings with the boss or client? And will the young generation Y workers right now going to be able to have interesting conversations with their children someday, who will sit wide-eyed listening and learning of fascinating tales of their parents’ life experiences?
Communication is nurtured through our upbringing. What we teach our children (my daughter included), has much to do with the time and place we communicate – vacations, school and sport activities, and most of all, kitchen table talk. Problems can occur if we miss these valuable moments to keep a pulse on the health and well being of our children.
Here is the flip side of this argument. Granted, we’re replacing more traditional interpersonal communication on a day-to-day basis with texting, emailing, and social media posting. But I believe these web 2.0 social media forms of communication are teaching us several important lessons.
Access to people and knowledge is far greater than ever before.
We now have the ability to reach more people than we ever dreamed possible. Have you ever stopped to think how would you have communicated 20 years ago to 10,000 people at a clip?
Through access to people, we’re able to obtain information through social networking and media websites. Digital access technologies give us instant knowledge on breakthrough research. Valuable insights are shared on a daily basis through discussion forums, supported by commenting and feedback systems.
Social is a participative process.
Opportunities to engage in new and richer relationships and share ideas are possible the more you’re participating on social media channels. Imagine if you tried calling the same family, friends, and other contacts as frequently—would these same people be available or accessible. I communicate regularly now with my sister-in-law through Words with Friends, a game app that you can also exchange text messages.
Social, a participative and voluntary process is also enabling people to overcome shyness or fewer communicative attributes to use digital media to express themselves. On Twitter, you can see profile images of people holding their pets, sporting golf caps, or donning beach attire—a tipping point for people to share themselves in their surroundings of personal significance.
The speed of change is much faster through the social world.
Organizations employing social media to communicate with their customers know these channels are giving them greater reach and much quicker feedback on new product introductions. With immediate feedback, these same organizations are able to make changes to deliver improvements to the marketplace sometimes in a matter of days.
Crowdsourcing through social and political causes, are giving individuals and countries the platforms for change, fighting for their civil rights and tearing down the walls of social injustice. New confidence through unity and shared interests are spawning cultural development to develop better education systems and sustainable societies.
Social media is not destroying communication, but building more channels that everyone can participate in. Let’s give our children hope through education, support, and engagement. Be Here Now, the spiritual guide to living your truest self and popular in the ‘60s culture, is now replaced by being in the moment, to give awareness and appreciation for what’s in front of us. Namaste.