My name is Natascha Thomson, and I am a social media addict.
I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Jive on a regular basis (my husband would say “excessively”). I have many apps on my BB. I have TweetDeck installed on my work PC and on my MAC. I just got an iPad and ordered an iPhone…
Recently, I announced on FB that I was taking the weekend off from social media to “withdraw” from my addiction. I got a few “ha, who are you kidding” comments, but I was able to do it, yes! (ok, I did read a few FB & Twitter notifications on my BB but did not respond). It WAS HARD! And (as my husband pointed out), not drinking for two days does NOT prove that you are not an alcoholic. But I love it!
Let’s step back in time for a moment. In November 2008, I wrote the blog: Is Web 2.0 Driving Us Crazy? lamenting the value of many a social media tool. I did not get the value of using social media at all.
The blog now makes me smile. I so did not get it then. Social media rocks. It’s where I get my news and build and maintain a huge part of my network.
Unfortunately, I now can also finally relate to this NYT article: In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop that was in my 2008 blog. I laughed about it then. Now I am worried about the effect social media might have on my health (as is my husband). My concern was confirmed by the NYT article: YOUR BRAIN ON COMPUTERS; Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price. I feel that social media helps me to get so much more done in a day. But am I delusional?
A related question that I have been pondering a lot lately is: Can we Multi-Task and Be Present?
Ironically, I recently had this discussion with a friend via Twitter while sitting at Starbucks. As I was at Starbucks and she on her friend’s couch in another city, were we both together in the present?
I conducted a little survey on what people consider “being in the present” and found the following: The one thing that seems to make us human feels that somebody is 100% present is eye contact. Simply because if somebody looks at you and speaks, it’s the closest you can get to knowing that they are paying attention and engaging.
We have learned to communicate fairly well on the phone, even though anybody who attends a lot of conference calls knows that sharing a phone line does not equal being “present”. It seems that everybody is checking their email these days on these calls, and when called upon says: “Can you repeat that question?” So the phone is only a sure communication tool when it’s one-on-one.
Now, looking at Twitter, FB or LinkedIn, we have absolutely no idea what else a person is doing while they are communicating with us, especially as it is not a continuous stream of conversation. We don’t have any context, and I sometimes find that disconcerting. People could be anywhere, doing anything, while typing on their mobile devices. The conversation with me could be a side note.
As we can’t see or hear the person, we have no read on their true level of engagement and emotions. Are they present? So in communication, can we only be sure of our counterpart being “present” when we can see them?