The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.
Leaving a rousing discussion Tuesday night regarding the information overload many professionals are experiencing in our increasingly digital and social world, I felt satisfied. Alas, not only was I in a room full of people who understood not only the social media blanket, but also the compulsion to reply to an e-mail, status update, tweet, page like or comment. That night, returning home from a full day’s work and a three hour class I thought surely I would crash as soon as I walked in the door. I was wrong.
At 9:56pm, an e-mail from a parent of one of my students buzzed on my phone (because I of course cannot resist hooking my e-mail accounts to my phone). It was urgent, she was double-checking if her son had gym the following day or not. What would happen if I didn’t respond? I thought as I typed my reply. What would happen if I turned my phone off upon returning home. Would the world end?
Our whole lives can take place on the internet if we wanted. Societal pressures and saturation leave me feeling suffocated at times, inundated others and during the I-forgot-to-bring-it-home-oh-wait-it’s-in-my-DropBox-folder moment relieved that we are surrounded by such an immense and powerful tool.
There are many dangers existent in the digital world. In addition to the saturation of “news” together with the decline in meaning of what qualifies as news, each person needs to be aware of how they (and their social networking “friends”) are portraying them. The YouTube skit “Overexposed” does a great job spoofing a much too popular cautionary tale of an applicant being denied a job on the basis of their social media escapades.
Avoiding the common pitfalls, like that highlighted above, the socio-digital realm offers great opportunities to those brave enough to venture out. In 2012, you can have one account for all over your news, work, personal information, calendar, and almost any other tool you can imagine through Google. Many cloud-based tools offer tech savvy users a chance to streamline their workload and stream their personal enjoyment to multiple devices. We have new opportunities to interact with users globally as well as locally at the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. The possibilities do seem endless.
The internet (namely the social and mobile aspects) have changed the way we think). Therefore, we need to change how we think about it specifically.
There’s good news! Through the obsessiveness and inundation, you can be more effective at managing your time, space and online persona by following a few key rules:
- Be sure to seperate your personal and professional life. Yes they are the same person. But, much as you would leave work at work (as best you can) try to leave your work accounts seperate from your personal accounts. Ex. Use FaceBook for your personal account, Twitter for Professional
- Protect yourself. Whether protecting your accounts by using unique combinations for creating passwords, or making your social media profiles not publically searchable, protection is key.
- Respect the intelligence. The internet is powerful, the social tools are strong. Use them and don’t abuse them. Use RSS readers to aggregate news on subjects of interest. Use your Spam folder and e-mail preferences to slow the flow of unwanted messages. Set Google alerts for topics, reminders for tasks and use the cloud-based tools to your advantage. Implement HootSuite to manage your social preference.
If you follow these 3 rules, the headache will subside, the levees will hold and you will fully appreciate the intelligence that resides in social media.