Social Media… Valuable or a waste?

Technology (tech·nol·o·gy)[ tek nólləjee ] – From the early 17th century, a Greek tekhnologia “systematic treatment”, by extension, “art or skill.

My first technology job (of a sort) was started at the first bank that I worked at while still in High School. All the “behind the scenes” equipment truly fascinated me. Proof machines that encoded the information on the face of the check to the MICR code onto the bottom of the check for computing processing later that night. Check printing machines to custom print checks for customers. Storage equipment, calculating equipment, etc. It was the introduction to my computing career and started me on a path of earning money!

From the mainframe room experiences of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and the desktop equipment from the 80’s to the present, the computing power of the technology world has miniaturized, sped up, and has become very specialized! We can hold in our hands more power than most mainframes of my personal experience. Data has moved from keypunched cards to Cloud storage. From communicating to mainframes via IBM Selectric style keyboard inputs, to swiping a finger across a screen. From hardwired networks, to wireless communication, it has become an amazing and fascinating world.

Still, the most interesting of concept of technology has been the changes we have seen in communicating with each other.

  • Do you remember having to connect a physical phone up to a receptor for access to a modem?
  • I remember the fascinating role facsimile (fax) machines began to play in the area of business, and eventually sending personal messages between private parties with a computer, modem and printer/fax machine.
  • I remember bulletin boards that you could dial into and even download information from some strange new way of sharing.
  • I remember email addresses becoming necessary in the 90’s as we began to experience the World Wide Web. My first email address was connected to CompuServe, an AOL like service that has since disappeared. My oldest email address that I still have is my AOL address from the 90’s.
    • Do you remember all those AOL CD’s that showed up on your doorstep through strange and mysterious ways?
  • Emails began to be the popular way of sharing information between individuals and groups.
  • Then all of those Instant Messaging processes that I could never relate to and even today I keep them turned off to keep myself hidden so that people have no clue if I’m “online” or not.

Social media has sort of moved from the back corner of future possibility into the lime light of how we share information across all the devices that we own. What we once could not touch because we could not accept (computers) we now clamor for so that we can blog, post and peruse everyone’s information at a whim! We see people at the stop light, driving down the road, in the doctors office, or anywhere else your imagination can conjure up.

Staying in touch with people via social media has become the “rage” and we are hopeless without it!

My simple thought today is this… Is it a valuable use of my time to be umbilical-ly connected to Social Media? Does it enhance my relationship with people? Does it trivialize the most important events since we see every move someone makes as necessary to the social world? After all, who cares what little Johnny is doing every 15 minutes of the day, or which Starbucks someone is at, or what map location they have checked in to?

Social media as a whole is taking us down some very weird paths! We may see it comically in hindsight when we think about all the time we’ve wasted with all the time wasters we’ve shared, or, we may see it as the “new” way that life is taking us.

In the mornings, one of the first thing I do is check my email accounts (about seven different accounts). Seldom is there a personal message from someone in my life. Most of the time it’s advertising about this and that and trying to get me to link to a web site so they can sell me something.

The next thing I do is check Facebook to see if anyone has sent me an important message, and again, there are seldom any personal messages for me.

Then I check my Text account, LinkedIn, and finally Twitter.

All within the first 15 minutes of waking up!


In fact, I think that if we would “fast” from these technological marvels we would probably find that we are MISSING NOTHING!

Except, I do enjoy having a running dialogue with others regarding some comical event, or temperature swings, or snowfall. I am touched when someone goes through a trial and needs affirmation and a shoulder to lean on. I yearn to see the news about my immediate family, and often wish that all of them were somehow connected to this social word where we could share easier. I follow my church, rejoicing at the good news, praying for the bad news, and hoping that we are making a spiritual impact (FB has become somewhat of a barometer…). I do enjoy checking into my Tweeter feed and have weeded out some wasteful experiences and found some other s who are more of a blessing to me.

So, along with all of the other time wasters around us – Social Media in one form or another is here to stay and we need to learn how to make the best use of it as a receptor or a deliverer! Carve out a useful world of staying in touch and do not let the detractors pull you down some wasteful path.

Who knows what the next generation of technology will do to us… Oh, wait… scratch “to us” and replace with “for us“….