I will be the very first to admit that I am well behind the curve when it comes to social media. In fact, I am on a straightaway about two miles away from that curve! It is not that I am technology-challenged; I have worked with computer applications most of my adult life and have been employed by several healthcare software companies. Rather, I am flabbergasted when it comes to sharing every aspect of my social and professional life on a web-based site!
Stepping into the confessional for a moment, I do maintain a profile on a business networking site. I use it for connecting to other individuals with similar professional interests, hopeless souls who have also chosen self-inflicted penance through their writing, and potential employers. Yes, the last item is purely self-serving; so please feel free to let me know how many “Hail Mary’s” it will cost me!
I have well over 3,000 “connections” on the aforementioned business networking site. I do not share this as a bragging point, but instead I wish to illustrate how I connect socially. The majority of my business “friends” are people who I have never met. Before accepting their invitation to link with me, I perused each individual’s background carefully. I asked myself, “If I met this person face-to-face, would I want to stay in contact with them?” Truth be told, I have rejected well over half of the invitations I have received.
To further validate my connections, I always send a personalized message back to the person who invited me to link. To this day, I go out of my way to send all of my connections a quick update at least every month or two. I also read all of their updates, although time constraints limit my ability to respond to each one.
I think it safe to say that full disclosure has now been accomplished. I would never want to be accused of hypocrisy by my thousands of regular readers. The chair in the karmic confessional is not very comfortable, so I will exit the dimly lit booth and cut to the chase.
When today’s dominant social networking site was in its infancy, I found it amusing at best. At long last there was a place for teenagers to vent their everyday drama. Bobby could be labeled “a jerk” for breaking up with Emily. The best part was that all of Emily’s friends could weigh in with their shared judgement. That would teach Bobby to dump the Science Club President for the Cheerleading Squad Captain!
Before long, there was a bevy of adults posting their online profiles. I sat on the sidelines with a smirk on my face. I envisioned a virtual lonely hearts club where the socially awkward could congregate. Upon closer inspection, it became evident to me that social networking was an effective way to share some of life’s more precious moments with those near and dear to you. That balloon popped abruptly as life milestones such as “I had macaroni and cheese for dinner last night” were posted; only to be read by thousands of “friends” who did not know the first thing about the poster!
I have served as a senior executive for four corporations so far in my leadership career. That said; I was all too keenly aware that it was simply a matter of time before social networking sites became commercialized. I was not disappointed! Fortune 500 companies were quick to build out their pages on the social networking sites.
Thinly veiled advertising ploys, these pages made me chuckle. If I wanted to “follow” your company’s activity, I would visit one of your stores. If I “like” your company, I will purchase your products and services; and you will see it reflected on your bottom line. Being a “fan” of your online presence is the same as me calling a telephone solicitor and asking them what they want to sell me!
Now I find myself in an uncomfortable predicament. It seems that the social networking bug has bitten me as well. For all of my scathing commentary on this phenomenon, I am compelled to go out and launch a new social networking site. I am thrilled to announce the launch of “Facebark!”
Naturally, my faithful hound Xena will be the first member. Given that her paws are not well-suited to a keyboard and mouse, I will serve as her scribe. Imagine those updates that proclaim “I chased a squirrel up a tree this morning.” You will be on the edge of your seat as you read “did my business on the fire hydrant at First and Main, please feel free to update it!” You will be glued to your PC monitor as you see the words “found a great surprise in the old cat box” emblazoned on the screen. As you can imagine; Petco, Beneful, Milk Bone, and Hartz are going to see their “likes” and “follows” grow significantly.
You may be asking yourself, “Why go to all of this trouble to create a corner of canine cyberspace?” It just seems to follow naturally; the rest of the Internet has already gone to the dogs anyway!