The Anti-Social Social Dilemma
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The problem I see on the horizon for leaders, teachers and parents is what I’m referring to as the anti-social social dilemma.
I believe I am social media, social networking and social learning’s number one fan. I also strongly believe that IT, HR and Learning leaders should be experimenting with up and coming social sites to a) keep abreast of what’s going on in the social space to b) determine if such feature or functionality could assist business processes, sales or internal engagement opportunities.
But therein lies the problem.
No matter what generation we’re referring to, although I’m deeply concerned about Gen Y & Z, in relation to the school or work experience … are we getting to the point where the proliferation of ‘social’ is actually creating anti-social behaviours?
Is the explosion of ‘social’ (and to a degree technology in general) driving personality disorders such that we’re shying away from face-to-face contact? Due to greater volumes of time spent on ‘social’, are we forgetting to teach and develop our in-person skills? When we do get in-person, how are we acting or reacting? The same?
It may be easier to share, communicate and feel more connected to others using social tools, however, what is it doing to our actual social skills? Are those skills being radically redefined as we continue to multiply the sheer volume of social technologies by factors well behind our imagination?
Gartner released “Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2012 and Beyond” in late 2011. Two of the predictions caught my attention:
- By 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1.
- By 2016, at least 50 percent of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client instead of a desktop client.
As we become more mobile through the technological advances in smartphone and tablet technologies, the R&D investment dollars are naturally trickling into this new stream.
As a result, the desktop disappears (not a bad thing, per se) and we no longer have a reason to meet face-to-face to work on projects, ideas, analyses, etc. as the super-charged smartphone and tablet with its fancy and uber-developed social apps make it so easy to hide from physical contact.
If we’re only communicating, sharing and learning in a social space, my fear is we’re missing out on the development of key behaviours and skills that might occur in face-to-face opportunities.
I’ve stated before that learning is part formal, informal and social.
Likewise, I’ve stated that leadership should be treated as a formal, informal and social continuum.
And I’ve also remarked that one should employ the CARE principal if they are truly going to be collaborative.
As Gen Y & Z (and those Gen X and Boomers getting sucked into the social only vortex) continue their own progression in life, it’s incumbent upon all leaders in any organization to ensure we provide the right development opportunities as well as the right face-to-face situations to hone and advance these sorts of behaviours and skills.
Anything social should be integrated in with face-to-face scenarios as well.
But an all social diet of interaction, collaboration, sharing, communicating and learning does nothing for society. We cannot be turning our employees or students into drones.
By now, some of you have labeled me either as a hypocrite or a Luddite. Unjust, but fair enough. I believe I’m as social as it comes, and I wouldn’t know how to operate in a world devoid of social.
But, I also know how to work a room, facilitate a meeting, lead a learning session, drive a coffee chat, conduct a 1-1 review, and brainstorm with a litany of whiteboards. It’s this blend which I fear is being lost in favour of an all social raison d’etre.
My 8 year-old was using an iPhone in our home one day in November, 2011. I received a text from her and it read, “Hi Daddy, can we have dinner now?”
I was 10 feet away from her on a couch.
Naturally, I asked her, “Claire, why did you text me? Why not just come over and ask me?”
Her reply? “Dad, it’s easier this way.”
Did I mention she’s 8?
Let’s not create the anti-social social society.