I am an unabashed user of Social Media. Like other technology tools I find that it can be both useful and engaging within the right parameters. For my family it has provided a way to get in touch instantly and share pictures, updates, stories and schedules. At work, I often speak with colleagues about why they should care about Social Media. So many people feel that the purpose of Twitter is to share when you're drinking a latte. Really, no one cares if you are drinking a latte, it's about having conversations and providing something of value to people that share common interests.
I work with Microsoft SharePoint as a trainer and web designer; I learn new things all day long just from the posts tweeted out by my favorite SharePoint Tweeters. I never even have to go hunt for these great pieces of knowledge, they are delivered directly to my stream on my iPhone or on my desktop. Since I am involved with Social Media professionally I also receive lots of interesting Social Media news and articles from people I follow, all without ever searching myself. Often I will Retweet this material so that my followers have access to this information as well. If it piqued my interest they might want to read about it too.
Now for the value, since I tend to read a few blogs daily and stumble upon useful information myself, I share that with my followers on Twitter or Facebook. It's my return to them for providing me with so much great stuff all day long. There is of course, a little of the personal as well, the fact that it was raining and the only umbrella I could find was my four year old son's Thomas the Train one on my way out to meet the ladies for dinner had to be tweeted.
Because I use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis and other participatory features of the web I am naturally excited about them. I bring that excitement home to my decidedly late nineties style UberGeek. When it comes to writing some bad ass code he is king, but I had to set up his FaceBook page for him. For months he whined and asked me why we couldn't be one of those couples with a joint Facebook page. I stared at him with horror and continued to say no. Finally, I convinced him to get up and running on LinkedIn and then Facebook and within days he was talking about the wonders of communicating with his grade school pals. "I know," I said, "I know." He still holds Facebook at arm's length, occasionally interacting when interacted with, but not really out there, sharing kid pictures with friends and posting occasionally.
Twitter is another animal entirely. UberGeek has much love and respect for my Twitter power but he himself eschews the application. He frequently sends me articles he thinks will be interesting to my colleagues and followers from his IEEE (this is the high society of geeks FYI) readings. He follows my stream online occasionally but mostly he avoids Twitter. When UberGeek works, he is head down, face in the monitor, cannot be disturbed, and he does not hear me if I am right next to him. Even if we are working from home in the same room, which is rare, it is as if we are both alone. He can only concentrate on one thing, intensely, at a time. I have learned that this is his style, it is also why he has to leave his desk each day for an hour at lunch time. While I may eat at my desk, I have worked in productive bursts with stops to say hello to a colleague, or read an industry blog which gives me a cognitive break. UberGeek has worked nonstop on the same page of unintelligible (to me) .net mumbo jumbo for hours and he simply must get up and out of the building for an hour.
I keep trying to convince UberGeek that he has so much cool knowledge to share that it is a shame he is not on Twitter "I prefer to be incognito" he says "I rarely even share this stuff in person." He recently traded in his ancient shift up to text phone for an iPhone so maybe there is hope.
I'm not sure why I take it personally that he does not embrace Social Media. It seems odd to me that there is an aspect of technology that I know more about than he does. I don't take it personally that I love to cook and he has no interest in that, so why the difference with Social Media? Maybe because nobody is missing out on anything as a result of his decision not to cook.