One of my goals in the coming year is to improve my professional social media presence. (Please help me do that!) It was spawned rather childishly by noticing that an acquaintance was killing it with his LinkedIn and Web presence. I’ve also known for a while that I am deficient in how I use social media. I primarily use Facebook, I barely manage LinkedIn, and I don’t have a Twitter account (one more reason I am, at best, a quasi millennial).
Shortly after setting my goal of beating my former friend in LinkedIn connections, I had the following pop up in my Facebook feed: Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It. The author’s central thesis is that social media is ruining our ability to concentrate. We’ve developed a “Pavlovian” need for a fix “at the slightest hint of boredom.” That hit home. The lure of cat videos or baby announcements or enviable vacation photos is especially strong when faced with wading through the Michigan Register for regs I need to update. And while I can resist that urge, I’ve noticed that my mind darts around a lot more than it used to.
But isn’t social media crucial to our professional existence? Another commentator argues yes. Employers are increasingly expecting a digital presence, and a lack thereof will give them pause. Moreover, social media doesn’t need to be all about rabid content production. There is value in “lurking” – i.e., passively consuming content. That has certainly come in handy for me. I first learned on Facebook that SCOTUS had reached a decision in the landmark Obergefell case. (Cut me a little slack—I was rocking a newborn baby at the time.)
So how do you balance these two competing needs? I don’t know yet. But I think I’m going to start treating social media as any other habit. Healthy in moderation.