“Social Media Made Me Do It” and Other Silly Notions

I love a spicy debate over new technology or social trends, and these days it’s impossible to mention Twitter or Facebook without triggering a verbal throw-down.

peeking through fingersOnce as separate as church and state, technology and social engagement are now inextricably bound together.

The whole notion scares the bejeebees out of people. Thanks to the near-mainstreaming of Twitter, Facebook and other community platforms, it’s a cinch to elicit a stream of grunts and eye-rolling from your spouse, colleagues and friends.

That Twitter Thing

As you read these words, someone down the corridor or across the room at Starbucks is clucking over this “Twitter thing.”  It goes something like this:

  • “Why the hell do I want to tell people what I ate for lunch?”
  • “What a waste of time. I’m not going to stop what I’m doing to read a bunch of crap that pops into people’s heads.”
  • “This Twitter thing, I just don’t get it. Isn’t it just texting?”
  • “I think it’s something Oprah started; is that right?”

Otherwise sane and coherent people have lost their sensibility as social technology spills over into the real world. Whether they’re at your dinner table or across the boardroom table, any one of these blokes can easily tee off with a rant about social technology’s dark, insidious affect on society.

Don’t Blame the Messenger

My favorite debate is the one surrounding social media’s impact on your job hunt or career reputation. Is it a good thing or bad thing? Productive or useless? Career-building or career-limiting?

The probability of someone watching you is proportional to the stupidity of your actions” ~Graham Smith

Stories abound that warn of the career risk of exposing your opinions and behaviors online. In the name of all that’s good and innovative, do we really have to blame technology for human choices and behavior? It’s just plain silly to categorically label social technology as the career limiting factor. Something tells me that Twitter and YouTube are hardly the cause for someone’s poor choice to publicly air his stupidity.

The Art of Common Sense

My advice is this: just use common sense.  There’s a direct relationship between technology-driven innovation and common sense. The more social technology you introduce into your life, the more common sense you should exercise.  If you prefer more reassurance than that, put technology to work at monitoring your online reputation.

Here are three easy-to-use online tools that enable you to search for online mentions of your name.

You should also read 5 Ways to Take Control of Your Personal Brand, written by “Branding 2.0” expert Dan Schwabel.

NEW: Roundup of Twitter Tracking Tools (from Social Media Today 6/9/09)

See You at the Finish Line

It’s lazy thinking to accept the notion that social media will screw you in a job hunt. Instead of condemning it as a time waster or a liability, use it as a competitive advantage. Start by changing your paradigm…here are four great resources:

  1. Socializing Online Could Get You a Job
  2. How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success
  3. How to Build Your Online Brand
  4. How to Build Your Personal Brand on Facebook

Jobs will come and go, but your brand is where you store your value. If you tell me you care about your personal brand and career longevity, be ready to tell me where I can find you online.

Photo credit:  Mateusz Stachowski

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