A late adopter's guide to utilising this thing people call Social Networking.
So you're an avid follower of the daily news and for some reason all of your friends know the latest stories before you and are throwing around terms like "tweet" and "#FF" or "#whatever" and then "Google+" pops in to the picture and you throw your hands up to the gods and scream, "why me? Why me?" Ultimately, you are wondering the whole time how these supposed modern tools are supposed to revolutionise society.
While I'm not sure anyone can answer the latter at the moment without being completely full of shit, we can at least dive in to some best practices for jumping in to the social networking pool and adequately dividing and conquering while still maintaining your privacy and integrity.
REASONS IT ISN'T JUST COOL, BUT HELPFUL
1. Building and maintaining a social profile is the best self-marketing tool
In the past people would hand write letters to each other, sending by carrier pigeon or post detailing the day to day goings on in their lives. These beautifully written letters might over emphasise or dramatise certain events to make them more entertaining for the reader and in the end would paint a picture more or less true of who and what the writer was up to.
These days, countless articles have come out about the impact social networking has had on jobs and hiring practises. For me personally, whenever we look at hiring someone at our company, I always as a first impulse Google them to see if I can find additional information beyond what is printed in their CV or the formulaic cover letters.
Spend a moment of complete indulgence and Google yourself.
If nothing comes up, I would argue it is just about as dangerous as if pictures of you binge drinking in Ibiza with your friends came up. In reality, this is an exaggeration which I'm prone to, but in actuality it is a missed opportunity for you to shape your newly "public" image.
2. People are learning to consume media in new ways and so should you now.
News no longer breaks on the front pages of newspapers, and in fact most people have probably already read multiple reports on a particular story before they even pick up a newspaper (if the even still do that). Newspapers are dying and it is because they are reporting news instead of analysing news. The news they are reporting is old and out of date having been reported a thousand times before and having broken on Facebook.
It's not just about being on the forefront of when and where news breaks, though it is exciting that social media has put ordinary citizens in the newsroom, but it is also about taking advantage of the resources available to those that are able to "feed" and process large amounts of information. The number of apps available that are newsreaders, feeding multiple news sources next to each other, turns your desktop, iPad, iPod, etc. in to a customisable ticker board. You can know MORE than you could when flipping channels or spending hours pouring over newspapers and it is all quickly and easily sitting waiting for you.
And then the power is in your hands to pass the knowledge on.
3. You now have no good excuse for not calling or writing your family, but then again if they really cared they would friend you on Facebook and subscribe to your blog.
The tools available for communicating are now so numerous you need a dictionary to figure out which one does what to the best of its abilities.
In all honesty though, for a small fee you can pay Skype to get a local number in any country that forwards to your phone in any country so family or friends abroad can call you at no additional cost to them and a very small cost for you.
Even e-mail at this point is on the verge of becoming dated. Messaging apps are rapidly revolutionising to becoming "instant" and many offices at this point are using IM (instant messaging) programs to communicate internally. We use instant messaging in our office more than e-mail even though we sit a matter of feet away, but at the same time we are constantly in communication over IM with our colleagues abroad in NYC and LA.
Regardless, no one has any excuse in my opinion to not be able to get in touch in some way so you should feel free to judge your friends and family accordingly.
This is an edited version of an article by Steven Rummer of DreamWorks Theatricals fame.