By some measures I am well connected. By the strictly quantitative measure of linked in first degree connections I could be seen as a well-connected man.
But I can assure you that internet connections give false security. Whether you have 50 , 500 or 5000 linked in connections will not increase your self-worth one iota (unless you are a fool).
People who count their popularity in terms of connectivity, are delusional. Connectivity on social media is an investment of time and energy- and a speculative one at that.
What does it mean – being connected?
Well firstly it means you have responsibilities. You are exposed to large numbers of requests on your time – many from people you do not know – but are connected to. You have a responsibility to yourself and those for whom you have promised your time (in return for payment) to prioritise wisely.
The internet is a destroyer of a time. It is a massive festival field in which there are many attractions but not all can be visited. You learn as you go along to be selective to prioritise.
Aligned to prioritisation, you need to be well organised, keep a diary that enables you to give time to the cultivation of your new connections, without neglecting your existing “estate”.
In my case, groups help me organise how I interact, in particular my own groups (Pension Play Pen and Bryanston School Alumni).
Through groups , you can keep in touch with large numbers of people and learn what is making a difference to them. Social Media (in both personal and business worlds) is a means for me to organise my time to make the most of it.
Dissemination and induction
There is nothing new about dividing people between extroverts and introverts. The former (and I am one of them) use social media to get messages out. We consider “content” – what we have to say – to be worth disseminating. This in itself may be delusional, but a true extrovert does not have the power to help him or herself!
The introvert may find connectivity helpful in a different way, a means of testing thinking and feeling against the thoughts of those who make a lot of noise.
This dissemination and induction of information feeds a basic need in human nature – to talk and share and to listen and absorb.
Is digital different?
None of this is new. We have always had to prioritise, organise, disseminate and absorb. Social media is simply a means of doing things digitally.
I don’t think there is anything radically different about the use of social media other than in scale and scope.
What social media does (often referred to as amplification) is to enable horizons to be widened and for people to enjoy a new richness of experience. The richness is “new” as in different, but not necessarily new as in better.
Why Columbus should have sailed his boat west when there was a perfectly decent life for him in Portugal, I don’t know. I guess, if interviewed way back then he’d have said “because I can” or some such platitude.
We don’t really know what happens in a fully digital age, we aren’t there yet. The way my son uses digital technology is different to the way I do but even he, at the age of 17, recognises that younger children at school are teaching him new ways to enlarge his horizons.
Space – the final frontier?
In the sixties, we thought that space travel was a way to expand the human consciousness, which was delusional.
Similarly , many – like me – have looked at digital connectivity and seen a new opportunity – which is proving like the old opportunity – only different.
Whether we are digital Columbus’ or social media astronauts, social media is not creating ways to expand our consciousness, it is simply helping us to understand what we already have.
Connectivity means nothing – it is a way of doing the old things differently
Connectivity – in the digital sense is a way of exploring what is already there, not a way of changing the world.
It is simply a way of doing the old things in a new way, adapting to changes in the way we communicate.
The reason I stay connected is that I, like a puny Columbus or Neil Armstrong, want to know what it’s like to be finding the edge of the world or floating in space.
Not many people want to do this connecting thing like I do, and properly so. The sacrifice of time in doing things this way, means changing priorities and re-organising what might be well organised in the first place. For many people the dissemination and absorption of information can be done in different ways – that work better for them.
But the fact that you read to the bottom of this blog, suggests that you – and many like you, are part of the digital process.
I don’t thank you for reading this, any more than I want to be thanked for writing it. But it makes sense from time to time to ask why bother.
I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions on that.