Social media. We’ve got to come up with a better term for it than that. That’s like calling a dance party an “aerobics and conversation congregation”. Yes it may be correct, but “dance party” is a lot more fun. I’m teaching a class tomorrow in Social Media Strategies, basically a class for people who’ve cleared the hurdle of finally getting an account, but then don’t know what to do with it. Not a surprise. I didn’t know what to do with Facebook when I signed up in 2008. New technologies and new ideas are sometimes easiest to accept when people haven’t made up names for them yet, kind of like new friends are easiest to get to know if no one has told you what to expect from them first. There’s a lot of “new” coming our way. Maybe I shouldn’t listen to what folks have to say about it.
Open disclosure: I use Facebook (11 more friends and I hit 666), Twitter (@tetrimbath), LinkedIn (my profile, aka resume), Google+ (“plus me” – groan), and Pinterest (they say Pin me – groan again). I have accounts on several other sites, but there’s not enough time to keep up with all of them. They are wonderful and worthless and distracting and informative and free. I particularly like the free part. I’ve even got a good enough Klout score to generate an occasional freebie (a Perk.) I should get some free Hershey’s within a couple weeks.
They are not panaceas. They are not Pandora’s box. Collectively, they exert an influence that is usually subjective, but is just frequently lucrative enough to convince many people to exert great efforts trying to exploit them.
Congratulations. You’re already using social media. There’s no other way to read my blog (and yes, I consider emails and blogging to be social media, too.) Maybe you print it out, but either you or someone else received it electronically first. That’s the media part. The social part is that somehow, through some social networking within a few degrees of separation, you were provided with this copy. That doesn’t mean I like the term.
Life is simple. We make it complex. My life is complex, and I know who made it that way. Me. Fortunately, even though my life is complex, it is much simpler than it was a decade or two ago – as hard as that is to believe as I type this at 8pm on a Friday night.
Some people leading incredibly simple lives have very little time to simply relax. Ironic, eh? Simple doesn’t mean quickest.
It is too easy to spend too much time over-analyzing a life. Too many fall into the trap of over-examination because Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” There’s also having too much of a good thing. The over-examined life isn’t being lived.
I could optimize my life for minimum impact on the planet (maybe I should move off-planet), for maximum justice for my fellow humans (hear ye, hear ye), for maximum profit (very Ferengi), for self-indulgence (hello Hedonism), for any of the causes that passionate people devote their lives to. I suspect that I shouldn’t take any of these to extremes, and that luckily human diversity ensures that each will have someone that will dive in with vigor.
There are many trends heading our way: environmental, political, spiritual, economic, technological, and cultural. It is impossible to understand, control, and embrace them all – regardless of how many TED Talks are watched.
I started using Facebook because someone required, er, strongly recommended it, prior to a gathering of fascinating people. Along the way I added LinkedIn, so my resume had another place to live. I added Twitter out of curiosity, and now find it fascinating as headlines break. I added Google+ out of curiosity, and have yet to find a good reason for it beside the Hangouts (which are cheap video teleconferencing and therefore handy, but not unique). I was drawn to Pinterest because people over there like photos, and I take and sell photos. I took each of these steps naturally, in their own time, without a label slapped over them. It was only after using each for a while that I learned how to make them play well together.
The changes in our world are overwhelming. Merely tackling investing, or personal finance, or frugality are three challenges that can fill weekends, or years. Trying to understand climate change, currency alternatives, political movements, and what to have for dinner can be too much to add on top.
I approach a lot of the changes simply, with an awareness of trends based on curiosity, but without adherence to external labels and other’s agendas. After a while, various choices based on my own values coalesce into something that maybe, sort of, possibly could look like someone else’s movement. Despite having some aspects of a stubborn streak, some external pressures will inevitably influence my life. As long as they align with my values, fine.
In class, we’ll talk about social media, but I’ll spend most of the time demystifying the terms, simplifying usage, and finding how to make the sites fit the needs, rather than the needs fit the sites.
Along the way, I’ll may bring up reputation economies and how Klout could supersede Google and maybe even the dollar, and how social media is green (but not as green as it looks), and how political action and activism are enabled, and how being a little closer to the edge gives a better view. It’s all about paying attention to values, ignoring labels, and making choices. It’s simple.