Social technology: a way of life . . . or just a damn hobby?
by Josh Bernoff
Among fans there was a ubiquitous argument. Many believed fervently that Fandom Is A Way Of Life (FIAWOL). Their lives revolved around their fan activities. Others responded that Fandom Is Just A God Damn Hobby (FIJAGDH). They loved to be fans, but their lives had other things going on, too.
FIAWOL types had jobs, but often had trouble getting ahead since their attention was elsewhere. Unless, of course, your job was in publishing or bookselling, but those jobs paid poorly. FIJAGDH believers were more likely to get ahead. They were also more likely to drift out of the fannish orbit. As I did.
As I see people immersing themselves in social technology I am reminded of this argument. Are you twittering all the time? Blogging every thought? Keeping up with every discussion about your topic? If this is your full-time job, you're like the fans who landed the jobs in publishing -- good for you. If not, your boss, your coworkers, and maybe your customers are wondering why you're not fully there, even when you're with them. If you're working at Facebook maybe social is a way of life (SIAWOL?). Not sure if that applies if you're at Best Buy or Accenture.
I'm not arguing you should give up social media. Staying connected is terrific. I'm blogging, twittering, facebooking and emailing (yes, that too) frequently. But it's not a way of life, it's a useful communications tool. (Would you ever say "email is a way of life?") I love to connect in these social worlds. I also like to take a moment to step back and think once in a while, instead of being caught up in the whirlpool at every moment. And whether it's a client engagement, a briefing, an event, or just a discussion in the hallway, I try to be fully present. People seem to appreciate it, and I learn things from those other interactions, just as I learn them within the groundswell.
Do you have trouble with this balance? How do you sort it out? I'm avidly interested in your answers.
Photo by Time Portal via Flickr