I have a 13 year old boy and I realized something enormous this past Saturday. I’m speaking of a game changing event.
Evan and I planned to spend Saturday in the city (about a 25 minute bus ride from where we live). We would walk and talk and have lunch somewhere. It was to be a free-form afternoon.
As we were getting ready I naturally packed up my iPhone. Evan immediately asked me “you’re not going to check in on Twitter and Foursquare every place we go with that all day are you?”
Stunned, I answered no but I suddenly realized that in some part, Evan has indeed been an innocent by-stander when it comes to my Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare ways. I am not, by any means, a social media addict. I’ll even prove it. I am able to leave the house without my iPhone and I sometimes DON’T check in on Foursquare everywhere I go. You should be able to do the same by the way.
Anyways, all this got me thinking. Here I am; thinking that I am a cool Mom because I am an early adopter when it comes to geeky things like social media and technology. That should make me awesome right? It seems not.
Social media participants know, it literally takes a few seconds to check in somewhere but all this paused-attention has a direct effect on the people around us. I think we are unknowingly sending them a message.
What is that message?
Well in my case, I am telling Evan; and very clearly I might add, that every person I follow on Twitter, Foursquare, or Facebook is more important at that moment and that we must pause our conversation, our walk and our moment while I announce to my audience that I am doing, seeing, watching something extraordinary, funny, odd or stupid. Aren’t those things supposed to reserved for our offline lives? Or at least some of it should. Don’t you think?
Make no mistake: this is also an issue for our non-participating Social Media loved-ones.
Let’s say you are out with your non-participating social media life partner and you both have planned to walk, converse and share quality time with each other. Now, how much of that is actual quality time if and you are clutching your iPhone, Blackberry or Droid with the grip of a young Chuck Norris and are constantly announcing to a bunch of strangers precisely where you are and exactly what you are doing at every possible moment.
In actual fact, if you really think about it, you ARE NOT doing what you say you are doing with your child or life partner because you are are way too busy signing in, tweeting and checking @ statuses every moment you can. And of course, hoping someone will RT your message as you announce every clever word, phrase, action or reaction your child or life partner experiences during what was supposed to be “quality time” together.
I’ve asked Evan a few times if he wanted a Twitter account and his answer has always been “Nah, it’s not for me”. Of course it’s not. Why would he want to use the one thing that takes my attention away from him.
I think I may be unknowingly creating a social media hater.
How do I (we) change this? Well, like with every problem knowing you have a problem is a good start.
A case for moderation
I think we all need to monitor ourselves and gauge our Social Media usage to the more appropriate moments in life.
Don’t Use Case – You are the only person at the family reunion with a smart phone and the inclination to Tweet or self-geo locate. Answer: Your best bet is to send an offline-for-awhile Tweet and put the mobile away and enjoy your family. They love you and want *and deserve* your complete attention. (update) Okay, maybe you can take pics with your mobile but wait until you get home to upload them to Flickr.
Ideal Usage Case – It’s Twestival and the place is filled with like-minded tech-savvy peeps and you want to share your minute by minute experiences as well as share your pics and want to pick up lots of info for your next blog post.
Share your story about the non-participating Social Media people in your life. Do they understand what you do? Are they frustrated? Has it affected their view of Social Media?