Social Media Is a Highway, Not a Destination
If You're On Social Media, It Should Be For a Purpose,
Not as an End In Itself
Just about everyone I've met since joining the LinkedIn community has his or her own set of reasons for being part of its pretty unique milieu. For example, some come to network and look for employment. Others come to recruit employees. Some come to look for start-up capital for fledgling businesses. Some come to market their services, while others come to look for services. And some come to make a business of being on LinkedIn.
Some come to express their opinions, while others come strictly to deride those opinions. Some come to share their professional insights in some business sector or other, while still others come to seek counsel concerning businessproblems they need to solve. The list, if not endless, is certainly very, very long.
Whatever each person's reasons are for being on LinkedIn, he or she is entitled to them. No question about that. However, what I'd like to suggest to you is that some reasons will lead, more or less, to some measure of personal satisfaction. whilst others will lead to disappointment and even desperation.
That contrast is not an instance of literary hyperbole. As a sometime professional writer, and an at-all-times marine industry consultant, I've been fairly active in publishing and engaging on social media.
As a result, I've built up a fair number of genuine "connections," as well as a fairly substantial list of "followers" for my publications. And I regularly receive requests for advice and/or help from people looking to make their way on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, there really isn't much I can say or do to help them — if their reason for being on social media is to be on social media.
What I notice in this contemporary age of social media, is that an awful lot of people seem to live only through the eyes of others. Such people cannot enjoy a meal, unless they are Snap Chatting photos of their plates of food. They can't be comfortable in their new clothes, unless they send out a selfie to hundreds of contacts. Many are actually addicted to the attention they perceive they are receiving. So much so that some may feel crestfallen if they don't pick up several hundred "likes" when they send out a photo of the pile of dog droppings they just stepped into on the front lawn.If you doubt this, pay closer attention on LinkedIn to the degree of reproach generated when someone deigns to disagree with a statement or post. Even the mildest questioning of an expressed idea almost invariably brings anti-troll storm troopers out of the walls, with their war cries of "What's your beef, buddy, if you don't agree just pass it by, and don't urinate on the writer's parade."
LinkedIn is a professional platform, and that person just posted an article or comment intended to bolster his or her 'personal brand'. Now, you've gone and ruined all that by disagreeing...(anonymous anti-troll trooper)
However, living solely in the eyes of others is a one-way street to depression and desperation. For you cannot satisfy, or even impress, all of the people all of the time. (Thank you, Abe Lincoln.) Indeed, you can't even do one of those things mostof the time. Consequently, you are left with needing to make your own way, develop your own sense of self and existential being. independent of the opinions of others. In the world and... on social media.
Of course, you may disagree. Indeed, if you do, I encourage you to say so... here and now. On the comment thread for this post. I assure you I can take it — for I've had years of hardening up. You know, you might find you like the genuine engagement that comes with respectful and civil disagreement and open discussion.
LinkedIn is not so much a platform as it is a bridge.
To my mind, by far the best way to approach your presence on LinkedIn is as a means to an end, a way to get where you want to go. And to determine what you do on social media — whether that is publish long-form posts, or discussions in groups, or comments on the posts and discussions originated by others, or comments on the comments of others, or marketing pieces for your business, or solicitations for investment for your start-up, or even memos to deceased relatives — by what you want to accomplish elsewhere than on social media.
I promise you the approach will bring clarity to your activities on, and occasional preoccupation with social media, as it will ground what you do here in real-world objectives. It will provide you with firmer metrics for success and satisfaction. You will no longer be wondering, "Are we having fun, yet?" Perhaps most important, it will help you to keep firmly in mind that
social media is a highway, not a destination. — Phil Friedman
Author's Note: This is an unusual type of post for
me to publish. I generally don't talk about writing, let alone writing
on LinkedIn. And I certainly almost never try to give out advice about
social media. But, if you found this piece agreeable to read, and
you'd like to read more of what I write on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button. As a
writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.
This post is the first in a series of literary and philosophical self-indulgences, which I've dubbed The Road Chronicles, because they use the concept of a highway as a central organizing metaphor. If you'd like to read the others in the series, they are:
"Cynicism Can Be the Last Refuge of Idealism"
"Reaching Beyond Me"
"Do Not Mistake What Is For What Should Be"
Please feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other beBee articles — whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I ask only that you credit me properly as the author. Some other of my work that you might like includes:
About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boatbuilder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, boating magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
-- Fair Winds and Safe Harbors
Text Copyright © 2015 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
Images Credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net