Social Media – An Asset or Liability???

Posted on April 6, 2018
by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

The Below Blog Has Been Updated From The Original Published June 2016 Entitled Circles Within Circles

We have all experienced the phenomenon of being recognized by someone who knew us “back in the day”!

The interaction usually follows a sequence of “aren’t you Tim Burton”? You then gaze at the person trying to assign a name to a face that has aged 40 years.  Usually they introduce themselves, “I’m Jim Carter, and we were in High School together”!

Hopefully by then you have a memory refresh!

The other avenue for reconnection is of course social media.  These exchanges usually are someone reaches out to you to Add as a Friend, and your curiosity gets the best of you to answer the most important question of the ages, “what do they look like now”?

At 68 I like many of us are at the decision point where there is as much intellectual focus on  “where am I going, as well as where have I been, presently we should also be asking what have I/we become?

On the positive side via Social Media I had the good fortune of having lunch in Lima Peru with a couple whom I had not had a meaningful interaction with since 1967!

Let me rewind a bit, the couple and I while never close growing up although did know each other, the wife was a friend of friends, and the husband and I grew up on the same street, later becoming a Doctor so as you can correctly surmise I was already intimidated.

Their career’s intersected with my family.  The wife and my son and daughter in law were teachers at the same school.  The husband after medical school later became my mother’s doctor.

We all have stories similar to the above, and I am reasonably certain we all conclude that these kismet moments are special, and frankly for that we can thank Social Media.

In this instance Social Media was an asset, as I was heading to have lunch with this couple, I was contemplating the likelihood of the following:

  1. Three people of the same age
  2. Each grew up in the same city
  3. Two of whom married
  4. Each taking a different career path
  5. Each career path intersecting with familial relationships
  6. Meeting for lunch 49 years after High School graduation
  7. Having lunch in Lima Peru where one semi-resides and two were visiting

Have no idea how to assess the likely % speculate they would be quite high!

However presently I have migrated towards the conclusion that Social Media is now more of a liability.

The platforms have gone beyond keeping one informed of the status of their friends, or interesting things to do, becoming mechanisms that at best heavily involved in espousing a point of view, and worse weaponized to instill fear and/or influence judgment.

In the recent past five episodes influenced my perception.

  1. Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook information to influence the 2016 election.  The fact that this group could get access and frankly steal the information of 50 Million people is an obscenity
  2. Ted Nugent hitting the airwaves referring to the Parkland students at “liars”.  How dare you!!!!! I am not sure performing Cat Scratch Fever is at the same level as hiding in a closet in fear of your life.  Sometimes the First Amendment is a pain!
  3. The clearly NRA subsidized ad’s on Social Media that portray School Shootings as an aberration…maybe one but not 19 in 90 days!
  4. The commentary by a Newscaster on the college acceptance rate of a survivor of Parkland.  Having only gotten into college due to family connections, later to flunk out of not one but 2 schools!  I’ll bet on the kid’s moral compass over the critical “adult”! (For those in a rush to Google or LinkedIn, I did graduate and competed two Master’s degree’s)
  5. The Firing By Tweet, regardless of the esteem in which you hold the dismissed common decency would suggest an alternative approach.  I recall the 1983 movie The Survivors where a Parrot fired Robin Williams! Please draw your own conclusions as to how you would prefer to find out your services are no longer needed.

As I can’t rely on Social Media not to share my information without knowledge nor approval, or put a Ted Nugent interview between information about my grandchildren, I have to conclude like many, it is now a liability the medium of which I want no part.

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