Why I Love Social Media
By Jill Ater
Recently I asked a neighbor of mine to “friend me” on Facebook. Her response was one I hear too often.
“Oh, no-no-no. I don’t do social media.”
“Why not?” I asked.
Her reply wasn’t unusual. “I like old-fashioned communication. I don’t care about someone’s sick cat or what their kid wore to prom.”
I am sure you have heard this from some of your friends and family too. But here is my question to them: Isn’t social media really just the same old-fashioned communication, but with a new twist? Think about it.
Muleshue, Texas. 1924. My great-grandmother Ottie leaves the cotton farm to fetch some supplies from the general store in town. Up saunters Mary Sue Jones from the horse ranch down the way. The scene goes something like this:
Ottie: “Well, howdy Mary Sue! How y’all doing? Y’all doing well? I hear Buford done fell off the tractor last month. Y’all been taking right good care of him?”
Mary Sue: “That he did. He done went n’ broke his leg, but he’s all healed up right good now and back to ranglin’ them ponies. Y’all good and happy?”
Ottie: “Yes, siree. Happy as a heifer at a pig roast.”
So, how is this any different from today? It’s called being social, which fulfills an essential need in humans – interacting with other humans. The beauty of today’s social media is that from my own little laptop in Denver, I can be neighborly with my friends from all over the world and all parts of my life; from Kindergarten to college to career to raising kids. I am able to share in the joys and sorrows of those I grew up with, of those I befriended both stateside and in my travels abroad. From Los Angeles to Washington DC, Dallas to Denver and the years I spent in places like South Korea and West Africa, I am still able to share my life with the wonderful friends I’ve met along the way… and as easily as if I had bumped into them on that dusty Texas road. Whoever thought that I would be swapping parenting tips online with a woman I met in Spain who lives in Malta and hates “Phineas and Ferb” as much as I do?
And the social nature of business has also remained much the same, albeit in a more technocentric way. Today my Rolodex is no longer a rotating file on my desk, but rather a website called LinkedIn on my desktop.
Chicago, Illinois. 1962. Two ad guys, Wilson and Hemmer, sporting charcoal business suits and with the undeniable scent of Brill Cream wafting through the room.
Wilson: “So, Hemmer, you remember that banker we met at the club last week during our three-martini lunch?”
Hemmer: “You mean Gin & Tonic smoking the Cuban?”
Wilson: “That’s the guy.”
Hemmer: “His name is Rowland Something-or-other. I’ll have Betty check the Rolodex and get back to you.”
The beauty of “today’s Rolodex” is that I can access it on my smart phone from anywhere and, unlike the old fashioned business card system, LinkedIn includes photos, updates and references. Wilson and Hemmer would surely be impressed.
In today’s crazy, fast-paced world, social media keeps us connected and can even enhance our businesses, lives and loves. Do I honestly care what my college roommate’s daughter wore to prom or that they ate chicken spaghetti for dinner last night? Not really. What’s important is that it is important to her. And because she is my friend, I enjoy hearing about her life and sharing in her memories.
And then I post on her wall that my cat is going to be just fine… it was only a hairball.