Last week my friend, Alex Rodriguez, wrote a great post about those who resist social media. He warned of the perils that come with putting up walls. He revisited the benefits that come with adoption of social media platforms and practices. This was all good advice. Indeed, I’m always impressed with the social media IQ Alex has built up as an early adopter.
Early adopter. That’s a descriptor you hear a lot these days. Actually, the whole idea of “adopting” social media got me thinking in a slightly different direction. Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly support Alex’s thesis. However, I also feel it’s good to remember that the world of social media really is a forced new reality for many people. I believe the key word here is empathy. Let me explain by going back to the adoption concept.
Let’s imagine for just a minute that your life is going along pretty well. You’ve got a dog, a cat and a parakeet. Aside from large veterinary bills, life is grand. THIS is your family. Now, all of a sudden, you receive a knock on the door. You find a dark-suited government type at your threshold, carrying a wriggling, swaddled bundle.
“Good day. My name is Mandy Torrey.” Says the stranger. “I’m with the Global Enforced Adoption Agency. Congratulations! I’ve got your new baby. Here you go.”
“I don’t want a baby!” You protest as Baby X is shoved into your arms.
“Which part of Enforced don’t you get? If you don’t take the baby, I can promise you dire consequences. However, if you accept the baby, imagine the joy you’ll have as you take advantage of all that forced adoption has to offer. Why, just think of the many new forced-adoptive parents you’ll meet at Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties! You’ll have a whole new social life!”
True, the new life that’s being thrust upon you could end up being much richer than the one you’ve known. Unfortunately, because you’re new to the whole adoption thing, your eyes haven’t adjusted to all these awesome possibilities. Instead of seeing all the wonder, what you see is something like this:
“The funny thing is…” Mandy Torrey says on her way out. “…some day you’ll thank me!”
Perhaps. But, for now, neither you, nor the dog, nor the cat, nor the parakeet are very happy.
The point is there are still a tremendous number of people who functioned at very high levels prior to the advent of social media (at least what we currently call social media). Some of them have also been around long enough to see fads come and go, bubbles rise and pop, and booms go bust. It’s only natural that they bring a little caution and moderation to issues of adoption, especially forced adoption.
Those of us who eagerly embrace all the possibilities of social media have a great message to share with others. However, if in sharing that message we fail to heed the concerns of the people we’re serving and collaborating with, then it is we, not they, who might be moving in the wrong direction.
I believe it always comes back to people- their hopes, their concerns, and their goals. Whether it’s on the client level or in interpersonal communications, social media is a tool that serves us, not the other way around. I think that, so long as we maintain a sense of empathy, just about anyone can be convinced, not merely of the value of social media, but of their own potential within this evolving flux of new platforms and methods of engagement. Some people will just need a little more time than others. After all, good things should never feel forced, especially when it comes to something as important as adoption!