Monday, July 27, 2009

Am I a lazy narcissist?

While chilling out on a dock at the lake this weekend, someone asked me exactly what it is I do for a living. I hate answering that question because PR can be notoriously complicated and therefore so is any explanation of what I do at work. Usually, I approach the answer with a focus on social media and its role in achieveing business goals, since that is where my interest lies. When I started talking about how important social media/networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even texting are to business growth, I was met with skeptical expressions. I had accidentally sparked a debate. Why? Out of the 5 people on the dock that night, I was the only one who used any of those tools on a regular basis.

Par-don?

How is that possible, I wanted to know. How did they stay in regular contact with people? Were they actually talking on the phone or (gasp) e-mailing? Does anyone even answer a phone anymore or check their E-mail inbox? I know I don't. To me, it's the equivalent of hitching a horse to a buggy to deliver a hand-written letter.

It wasn't like I was talking with a bunch of Baby Boomers either, the people on the dock were between the ages of 20 and 33, so Gen X, Gen Y and Millenials, all generations that are supposed to be technologically saavy. So what was the deal, then. Why the resistance?

Apart from the baffling assertion that "most people" don't use social media was that, if they did, it's because they are a "certain kind of person". The general opinion seemed to be that this "certain kind of person" didn't use social media because they were too busy, but because they weren't busy enough. Basically, people who regularly use social media tools are lazy and need to find something more useful to occupy their time.The concensus was that Twitter is useless and narcissistic, Facebook is nothing more than a time-wasting device and texting is rude because you should just dial a phone and call someone. I tried explaining that these technologies are mobile, so really most people aren't sitting in front of a computer, they are going about their lives while simultaneously using the technology for business or leisure purposes and also that businesses were increasingly making use of them. Face-to-face is still the ultimate goal but, when that is not possible, this is how people communicate now, I said. Nobody was buying it. "Look around, there are five of us here and you are the only one who thinks like that", I was told.

I was f*cking blown away.

Is this true? Are most people not using social media? Are the people who do use it just self-absorbed Tyras with too much time on their hands? Are other people still having several telephone conversations and sitting down to answer e-mail messages daily while jotting things down in their hard-copy daily calendar?

Have I been under the false impression that the world is moving in this direction and this is the new way to communicate?

Weigh in bitches, how big of a role does social media play in your life and who is using it?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm dumb-founded of the response you got. Especially from the younger folks.

Interesting topic. There was an article in Sunday's Calgary Herald about Bill Gates removing himself from facebook because he had 10,000 people request to be his friend, and he couldn't decipher whether he actually knew all of them or not. The one thing that stuck out from the article was that he commented about social networking and technology, and that it can be a time-waster unless used effectively. A point Mr. Gates and I finally agree on.

I personally don't use twitter because I don't have time to constantly update what I'm doing. But I use facebook religiously. Not only for connecting with friends, but current and past colleagues. I have helped facebook friends find jobs. I truly believe finding a job is still all about who you know, not just what you know.

As for email, that's my standard mode of communication. I rarely pick up my phone to talk to someone, but fire me an email and my inbox will be opened or I'll respond from my blackberry.

Different communication methods for different people.

Carla said...

I think many people dismiss social media as a waste of time. It's a shame, and actually, it's not true - I got my current job by using social media to market myself as a job seeker. The position I got wasn't advertised - it was specifically offered to me because I made a personal connection.

The assertion that "most people" don't use social media just straight up isn't true. Facebook just passed 250 MILLION users. Almost 11 million Canadians use facebook - that's about a third of our entire COUNTRY.

That is a pile of people who are using social media for a variety of purposes - job searching, reconnecting with family or friends, selling things (Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, etc.)... the list goes on and on.

As for people who use social media being lazy, I doubt that. Many of the active users on my Twitter feed are members of the local media, who are some of the busiest people I know. They sometimes work 24 hours a day! Many of them were tweeting while covering the huge storm we had here a couple of weeks ago, even.

Anonymous said...

hmmmm question for ya...were you on the dock with a bunch of guys in trades? I find that a lot of guys in trades could care less about social sites etc., including my boyfriend who is anti everything computer and technology! Unless he can take a wrench to it to fix it he won't be bothered to use it.

I think the odds of five people at the same time not agreeing with you on this topic is rare...do they all work together or in the same profession or something where they aren't required to communicate with people and only with non-computerized machines???

Shabs said...

Yeah, actually. Two mechanics (one is an instructor at a technology school), an electrician and a Masters student. The electricians work on computerized machines, though.

Anonymous said...

I was anti-Facebook for a long time, but finally broke down. But most of the time, I'm only on it for 30 min at most. I don't know if I care that some girl I used to work with is planning on going for a walk, then went for a walk, then is tired from the walk. I like the funny updates, but to read about someone else's boring day... no thanks. I have my own boring day to deal with. Now maybe this is because I'm a mechanic, or not very tech-savvy I'm not sure. But most of the time, I find Facebook to be just a time-waster for when I have no one to talk to on the phone... Char

Jill said...

Hmmm, interesting. Personally I rarely read my Twitter feed. I started it up with good intentions of being as awesome as Carla. But in the end I got a job the good old fashioned way, and now my twitter feed is all neglected and growing weeds. Ditto my blog. (I very occasionally have a twinge of writing genius - speaking of I totally have a good topic for a guest blog and you should Facebook me.)

I only really use Facebook regularly. I think because FB is pretty arms-length. I like making contacts by talking to people and liking them. I find that people are way different on the internet. I don't enjoy catching up on the 9,000 Twitter updates and trying to force myself to care about their inanity and respond. Maybe I'm just a little antisocial. And it would never occur to me to update Facebook or Twitter on mobile unless there was a horrific accident or something and I wanted an excuse to talk to Lynda Steele.

This is not to knock people who DO use Twitter and like it, but I definitely think it's a "different strokes" issue. I think as a society we have to get over the insane fear that by not using one or more of the many many social media apps out there, we are missing out on a crucial scene. I don't go to New City on goth night because it's not my scene, so why should I pretend Twitter is? And if my heart's not in it, I'm never going to be awesome at it like Carla.

BUT. I do not believe I am missing out. I believe I can make connections in a way I ENJOY and that it will show that I enjoy it. That will make me much more fun and awesome and winningly charming than I could ever be via Arial 10pt alone. Some people enjoy Twitter and it shows. I enjoy face-to-face and it shows. THAT'S what attracts job offers and the like, is the employer's recognition of a great personality and an intelligent person. Those are things worth having. How do you show that? However you're comfortable.

Anonymous said...

The majority of people on Twitter are in the media or marketing/communications. It's advertising straight up. Everyone on there is doing so to endorse their products, skills, talents etc. (No one would ever say what they're REALLY doing or what they REALLY think...it's all about promoting)
Facebook is great for keeping in touch with people; however if you wouldn't talk to someone if you pass them on the street, who on Earth would you add them to your friends list? If you think about it, Facebook is a very creepy concept.

nick said...

Twitter is retarded shabs. To start with, i can't stand how companies now a days feel like they have us all figured out when it comes to marketing. I feel like i'm the only one who sees these new "social networking" programs for what they are; giant money making schemes for internet geeks with little to no talent, as their programs are ridiculously simple. I watch it clear as day, starting with twitter paying some pop star to drop their name on the mtv movie awards, to hearing ryan seacrest barf twitter on the radio. Unfortunately for me i'm fighting a losing cause because for the most part thats all it take for society to latch on the twitter tit and start the advertising money gravy train for them. Aside from all that though, it seems like the whole basis of twitter is surrounded by peoples self centered attitudes. The fact that the people think they are so improtant that the world must know what they are eating for dinner, when they're going to bed, and what they are shopping for, all seems a little much for me.

Facebook can have a little more respect though. I also hate it for succeeding so much, but it is cool to have a place where i can see pics of my neice and in the next minute laugh at where the cool kids in high school ended up.

Anonymous said...

So, I should start by admitting that I have never considered using a Social Networking site to find a job. I am a nurse, which makes finding work for me about as difficult as finding work as a Vegas prostitute.

My issue with facebook is my own conflict between my humble, modest, Polly-Anna ‘I like my privacy’ fa├žade and my need to incessantly brag about why my life is so much better than yours (even if it’s not). ‘Look at my beautiful baby’; ‘Look at my beautiful home’; ‘Look at my beautiful face’, etc, etc.

In my opinion, the debate shouldn’t be about whether involvement in these sites encourages narcissism. They do. That’s the entire marketing strategy behind them. Everybody likes to talk about themselves. Everybody wants to portray themselves as clever (what should my next witty status be?), happy, and interesting, even when they aren’t, and these sites provide the outlet.

The debate should be about whether being narcissistic even matters anymore. Maybe narcissism should be embraced so I can sleep better at night knowing that my life rules and you all know it :)

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