Why is "Social" hard?
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Visits (1961)
Are you being inundated with information about "being social"? Are you confused as you think that we worked that out thousands of years ago when we emerged from the caves? Humans are social. It's what we do. So, why is "social business" such a strange new thing and why does it seem to cause so much confusion?
I struggle with this a little bit myself. I have a blog, but I don't blog every day. I would probably blog more if I got a flood of questions from people to answer, but I don't. Much of what I write just goes into the ether with no comments, just a number of views. In that vacuum I just mention things that capture my curiosity on a given day. Some of them hit. Some of them miss--or at least seem to have very limited appeal. I'm guessing that I'm like most people. I'm not a rock star. I'm not the most interesting man in the world. I'm just some dude who happens to have a deep, personal interest in using Linux and open source to get things done.
Yet, despite the fact that I'm not "important" I still see value in sharing information with the world. I don't do it because of ego. I do it because I figure that some of the problems I solve or items that interest me will be just right for someone else. Maybe it helps them. Maybe it sparks their imagination and they go dig into it, or it spurs them in a completely different direction that is useful to them. It's like sitting in a big coffee shop but rather than everyone being heads-down into their book or technology people are looking around and paying attention to each other.
It seems that this would be a natural and easy thing for humans. But somehow as we get into this sort of virtual expression people raise their expectations. I have a few blog entries that only have about a hundred reads or so. Others have thousands. Some of the Social Super Stars have millions of people looking at them. By comparison, I'm pretty uninteresting and unimportant. Yet, if you were to put out a note that you were going to talk about something after lunch today if anyone wanted to come by an hear you and a hundred people showed up that would be pretty interesting. You'd need a small hotel ballroom to accommodate them! Based on the Internet scale of numbers it's not very large, but in terms of human contact it's not so bad.
What is it that we think is supposed to happen when we share things socially? Why do we have these enormous expectations of what counts as success? It seems to me that any level of connection with others about our passions and our knowledge is valuable. Social media creates a chance for us to connect with people that we should know, regardless of geography. We can connect, collaborate and discuss things. We can find resources we never would have discovered. We can find that we are not the only one in the world.
Of course, this all applies to our work life as well as our personal life. As you can imagine, my Linux-centric view of doing things meets with a deal of controversy in my work life. If I had not connected with others who also have my perspective I would have given up a long time ago. Anyone who is working to create a truly innovative technology or service, something that is a real game changer, is likely surrounded by negative feedback. They are being told to give up by people who are threatened by or just do not share their vision. Social technology is a boon to those people. It feeds them and helps them to get past their obstacles.
So, for all that potential, why do those of us who struggle with social media struggle? If you could have someone walk you around some of your obstacles, what would they be? I'd really like to know. Maybe thinking about your questions will help me answer some of my own, even ones that I didn't know I had. I want to give it a shot.