Immigrating to the World of Social Media


When I started working for government in late 1989, I had never experienced email, or worked much with PCs.  Word-processing in university was via the mainframe.  Yet, within three years – by around 1993 – everyone had a PC; and email had evolved to a much easier platform than the complicated system on dumb terminals that I started with.

I wholeheartedly embraced this revolution – quickly becoming the “go-to-gal” for any number of software related tasks and questions.  I created complex macro-driven spreadsheets and gorgeous slide presentations for my bosses – that were, incidentally, put onto overhead transparencies!

So, I have been quite perplexed with the internal resistance I have felt as I have begun to adopt various social media tools for my business and watched as my pre-teen daughters sign up for any number of chat sites. 

Though I am not quite prepared to brand social media as the “rock’n’roll” of my generation, I definitely feel a strong generational gap.  An “a-ha” moment came when I raced out to get a book to teach me how to Twitter!  While it was a good read, I quickly saw the irony in this approach – type “learn to use Twitter” into your search engine and you get over 1 billion hits!

My oh so savvy advisors at Copeland Communications, explained it this way – those of my generation are, to some extent, technology immigrants whereas our children are technology natives.  Even better is the now classic quote from Douglas Adams.  Writing way, way back in 1999, Adams said this about our ability to adapt to technological change:

“1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.”

Looked at from this perspective, it is much easier cut myself some slack and accept that learning the ways of this new world will take time, patience, persistence and curiosity.

What has your experience been bringing social media into your life?

Comments are closed.