Keeping up with the Jones’s Status Updates
Posted by b0bryan
There were a couple of things that really stood out for me in chapter 3 of Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman. First, email is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. And, second, if our friends have better status updates than us, we will get off the coach and run a 5k just to one-up them.
First let’s start with the horse-and-buggy that email has become. Qualman provides the following quote from a director of Apple iTunes . . .
At Apple, we generally hire early adopters. That being said, I was still blown away when we recently hired a 22-year-old and he had literally never sent an e-mail. Via his iPhone he had always communicated with his friends either by instant messenger, text, phone call, or comments within Facebook. I believe he is not alone and this is a trend we will continue to see with the next generation. (p. 47)
I’m almost twice as old as this kid–so maybe it is because I’m old–but I still use email at work all the time. That said, when I think about my life outside of work, I’m not that much different than Apple-boy. I text my family and friends, or post to their FB page, and I send private messages to their FB page if it needs to be private. So, I can kind of see how a young person today could get through life without email, but what about work? I think maybe work needs the formal structure the email provides. If not, what is holding back the spread of social media inside of companies. I bet that 22-year-old learned how to use email after he got hired.
The second phenomenon that Qualman described was about how constantly commenting (and reading others comments) on life causes us to live more meaningful lives. He describes the case of an 83 year old man named Bill Tily who consciously examines all of his status posts (p. 51). Then when he finds that he is wasting his time, he redirects himself to do more fulfilling activities.
I’ve thought about this myself, though not to the same degree as Bill. More commonly, I see that my friends are doing something cool while I’m watching Wipe Out and I take stock and try to make some changes. I’ll be honest, I have a couple of friends that are hard-core athletes: one runs triathlons and the other travels the planet riding in and writing about bike races. While I admire their drive, I often find their posts incredibly annoying. Things like, “Just completed a seven-mile run to 7-Eleven for a bottle of YooHoo” or, “Sipping wine in Tuscany after a long ride.” It just makes my life seem kinda dull.
But again, it does somehow motivate me to ask myself if I’m really making the most of my life. Wasn’t it Socrates that said that, “The unexamined life is not worth living” ? Could social media really be what causes us to shut off Farmville and live better lives?
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