Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking and keeping life in balance

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on December 24, 2009

This is the first of two postings that together address differing faces to a single, central issue. Online social networking sites and related online resources offer tremendous value, and ubiquitous access to all of this with real time capability for connecting locally, and for whatever local you are in is going to change the world. But that said, this growing capability in shared computing and communications carries some specific problems too, and ones that increase in potential impact as always online and interactive becomes a reality – problems allocating time and setting limits to being online and connected and in what ways, and consequences of system breakdowns or even just slowdowns, as we become more and more reliant on these systems. This posting addresses the first of these issues and the next in this series will look a bit into the second, and delve into single point of failure problems and related considerations.

Focusing here in issues of use and perspective and on keeping life in perspective, how do we know when a good thing might in practice be turning into too much of a good thing? This question is all about goals and priorities, and in keeping an active eye on the larger picture that includes work and play, online and face to face, and in all their varied aspects.

A few days ago I read an article in the New York Times about teenagers who have either pulled back from Facebook or left it completely because they found that they were spending so much time and attention there that they were pulling away from their direct and immediate face to face friends and activities. I know people who have done this for sites like LinkedIn too that are more business oriented, in their cases deciding their online social networking was not cost effective in support of their business or careers.

Several possible reasons come to mind for me and one has to be in making effective use of these resources. So just looking at the LinkedIn dropouts and usage reducers – if you are doing a lot of things that cannot possibly help you with a limited and off-putting profile and other online materials and with poor, strategy-free networking practices then just about any amount of time you spend online that way is going to be cost-ineffective.

• But even if you have a great online profile, web site and other online content and interactivity options.
• And even if all of them superbly convey your brand and value in business.
• And even if you network effectively and develop good contacts and connections.
• You still might not be using your time and energy, or your business resources effectively if this means you are being limited in your capability to follow through on these leads and opportunities.

One answer might be to pull back and limit your activities online for your business. Another might simply be to pull back and limit your particular hands-on involvement and decide that you have reached a point where you need help with online marketing with a social networking and hands-on approach. For that, see some of my postings on Human Resources and Hiring.

But this involves social networking too, and as noted in other postings here, ubiquitous computing and communications where we can connect in anywhere all the time blurs the old work versus leisure time/non-work distinctions.

There are no fixed or absolute answers as to how to identify and manage this balance for time on and off-line. That is going to take experience and judgment and it has to be assumed that decisions will be made on the basis of being out of balance and facing the consequences.

I am placing this in my Social Networking and Business category because a lot of this is about social networking as a particular point for potential friction and conflict in setting schedules and priorities. I add this into my Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time category as this is a problem we will really see emerging as a consequence of our growing all the time and everywhere capabilities. That definitely includes keeping things in perspective and not driving while texting – a category of poor scheduling and priorities that is simply going to grow and both in prevalence and in options for inattention and recklessness. About a month ago two airline pilots overflew their destination airport by some 150 miles because they were so busy on their laptop computers with the plane on autopilot that they did not know where they were.

The changes we are seeing come into place in our communications and information processing, gathering and sharing capabilities are going to have to inform both our ongoing work and home life practices, and our sense of judgment as we face challenges and consequences that are new too, or at least new for levels of risk involved.

If this posting is about the possibility of going online too much or at the wrong times, the next is going to be about breakdowns where we cannot go online when we should and even when we really have to. I write this as a quick note on Christmas eve – happy holidays and may you all enjoy a fulfilling, happy new year.

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  1. […] Social networking and keeping life in balance « Platt Perspective …4 hours ago by Timothy Platt  Online social networking sites and related online resources offer tremendous value, and ubiquitous access to all of this with real time capability for connecting locally, and for whatever local you are in is going to change the world. … […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by link2peer, LifeinBalanceinfo. LifeinBalanceinfo said: Social networking and keeping life in balance « Platt Perspective … […]

  3. […] 27, 2009 This posting is in a way the flip side to the issue raised in an earlier posting: Social Networking and Keeping Life in Balance. There, the issue was of managing the time spent online and keeping it in perspective. This is the […]

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