The Power of Personal Connection: My Final Thoughts on Social Media

This class on social media hit the mark.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and each week I discovered something new.  I learned many things, including the vitally important leadership concept: culture is the key factor in successful corporate  implementation of social media.

I leave this class with my final post on personal connection to social media.  The power of personal connection in social media amplifies outward dramatically, leveraging one’s voice and network, like a lever and fulcrum , sharing news, connecting people in need with people in excess, and meeting human needs.  This same power can amplify inward, causing a depressed person to be more depressed, causing a happy person to be more happy, causing a politically liberal person to become even more liberal.  The inward amplification is due to the filter bubble and our homophily.

Assuming and Unaware

ostrich

Some people make assumptions that using social media is like being hooked on heroin, and once you get started, it will take over your life to the detriment of all the other good things.  Ignoring social media is like living on the coast and ignoring a rising tide and coming flood; one can avoid looking but can’t avoid the huge impact.  Avoiding and refusing to engage with social media is a mistake which will negatively impact one’s quality of life.
addiction

 

Some people try not to think about the amount of screen time on social media and its opportunity costs.  Do online interactions meet the psychological needs of a person and society’s needs?  Does increased screen time (smart phone, laptop, TV) make us more connected to other people or less?  Is the connection worse or better?  I believe that social media has become an addiction for many.  Why do I say that?  Read the definition below and then think about how you feel when you can’t find your smart phone or when the WiFi is so bad you can’t get data on your phone.

addiction: (uh-dik-shuh n) the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Severe trauma?  Well, maybe moderate trauma for some of us.  Based upon the reaction of my teenagers and their friends, when their access is cut, I have witnessed severe trauma, bordering on panic.

Questioning and Aware
einstein

In the timeline of development, we are very new to this form of media and are only beginning to ask and grapple with questions about its implications for our culture and our personal well-being.

 

 

A personal recommendation I’ve stolen from many sources:

Be mindful in your use of smartphones and social media.

Want to learn more?

Prof. Kane recommended, but thinks the talk is not nuanced and objective, we watch the Sherry Turkle (psychologist, sociologist, author) Ted Talk on our online connection and its implications for real relationship intimacy.

sherry-turkle

I recommend this short talk from author Abha Dawesar on the subtleties of attention, time, and quality of life.

abha-dawesar

The greatest characteristic of social media is its combination of power and access.  It is leveling the playing field by giving anyone with access to an internet connected device an opportunity to connect to the entire human population of connected people.  Any internet-accessible person with an ambition or curiosity can reach out to give or get help, make connections, join with others to create a power that alone they do not possess, express their opinions, and share news.  Linux, Wikipedia, PGP, were were created by social networks.  Many personal and business relationships are enhanced by social network connections.  There have been and will be many positive and negative outcomes from social media.

Social media is a set of technologies that we can use to improve our lives, if we remain aware of their power as a tool and their impact on our own being, our relationships, and our communities.

6 comments

  1. cmackeenbc · ·

    Great post!! It is hard to believe this semester is already coming to an end, and you did a great job reviewing what we take away from it. I like that you label our connectedness as an addiction, and I think you are right in doing so. The part of the addiction definition that pertains to “physically or psychologically habit forming” reminds me a lot of the Atlantic article we read last week on how the internet has shaped our brain processes. I do think that our brains have been retrained to process information in a different, more short-circuited way, and it is important that we acknowledge and understand this if we wish to be successful employees and managers in the future. Great work!

    1. Thanks for reading my post and commenting. Seems odd to think that our brains are actually adapting physically to social media and the pace and attention span. Sounds a bit like brain washing.

  2. emmaharney21 · ·

    I really appreciated your post! It was a great summary of key points. I personally identified by your opening paragraph “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” I did not expect this class to be as innovated, in depth, and eye-opening as it was. I agree that between all the videos, articles, and discussions, I have come out with a much greater respect for social media that I ever had before.

    One of the points you mentioned that stuck with me was the idea that social media is flattening the playing field. I think what is so amazing about social media is its undying potential. We have absolutely no idea what social media will look like over the next decade and how it will impact our lives. The best part is that the next million dollar idea determining this is up for grabs for anyone. I do agree that the digital world is creating an opportunity that people otherwise would not have had. I do think though that it is important to remember that the big players are still big players. By this, I mean that companies, famous people, even governments, are still influencers. They are theoretically playing on the same field (platform) that the average person is, but we are not completely equal. I really enjoyed your post and I think you covered some really interesting points about this class. I completely agree that the class hit social media on the head and it has definitely become one of my favorite courses at BC.

  3. finkbecca · ·

    This was a nice post. You summarized many of the things we discussed in class, specifically the wrap up from last week. I agree that there is an “appropriate” middle ground for how we should use social media and tech. I’m not sure that I know what that is, what’s the exact amount of time you should be spending looking at your device vs engaging with someone face-to-face. Reading the “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article last week definitely opened up my eyes a bit to how the web is changing our brains. It’s a bit scary and strange, but I think it’s also just the way we are adapting and changing and maybe it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Anyway, nice wrap up to the course. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and comments throughout.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. I’m with you on the feeling about our brains being changed by the way we consume social media.

  4. Really enjoyed your post! In my first two blogs, I reflected on the shortcomings that companies often fall into when they implement a social media program (and often put inexperienced millennials at the helm). I think you hit the nail on the head in noting that culture is key.

    Also really interesting take on the Millennial addiction to social media. I wish this was a topic we’d addressed more in class, because I think that it will continue to persist and could become more of an issue as social media evolves to other facets of our lives.

    I think you definitely keyed in on the nexus of future social mediums in the importance of relationships. Platforms will come and go, but we will always be looking for new ways to connect in meaningful ways.

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