/ From Casual Contributor to Cyberstalker – The Parable of the Weeds

As I stand out on the back steps looking over what can only be described as a small thriving jungle, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. The yard has been completely overrun with weeds. I know it needs to be done. I know it will make my wife, my neighbors, and even my father, who is 400 miles away, very happy. I even know that at the end of the day I will feel some sense of satisfaction myself. But, the air conditioning I can still feel on my back, and the thought of sitting on my comfortable couch to watch the third round of this week’s PGA tournament were almost too much to resist. It’s not that I am lazy, I can just think of a lot of other things I would rather do with my time.

Now we are all sitting in a company meeting where Josh is rolling out a plan to inspire a more social media savvy culture. I am staring at a list of dozens of social media apps that I honestly never planned to use. And there it is again, that same sense of being overwhelmed and undercompensated for the time invested. Again I knew it needed to be done. I knew that I stood to gain some valuable knowledge about the technology and user experience. But a part of me was still thinking it would just be better to go back to my desk and continue working on my daily tasks.

I am not anti-social by any means, but I would consider myself much more casual. I logged in to Facebook to wish my friends a happy birthday and let them know that I didn’t have any Tommy guns for their mafia, my LinkedIn profile was complete, and I had even signed up for Twitter. But I just hadn’t ever really felt like I got enough return for the time spent on social media apps. However, after being completely gamed by the marketing department, prizes and achievements are a definite weakness, I decided I would jump into this #domosocial experiment with both feet. I decided to take a leap of faith, which was more like a plunge into a messy abyss, and invite everyone I was even remotely acquainted with to be my friend on Facebook. I figured at best everyone would accept and I would move my Klout needle a bit, and at worst my neighbors would start to think I was cyberstalking them.

It turns out not everyone was as ready for the social revolution as I was and one of my invitees reported me to Facebook triggering a warning about my inviting practices, which I think should probably warrant a #domosocial badge of some kind. Is there a badge for #cyberstalking? After assuring Facebook that I was a real person, and not just stalking people I didn’t know, I was able to resume my activities. I quickly connected Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I made a few posts, uploaded a few pictures, and checked in at more places than I actually felt comfortable. That is when something unexpected started to happen.

I was out and about in my neighborhood and was stopped by an acquaintance, not someone I really had contact with before, and they commented on a post I had made on Facebook. As we stood and talked I suddenly realized why I had never had any success with social media. It was because I never really participated. Apparently I just needed to approach the threshold of cyberstalking to reap the true benefits. Honestly it was a bit of a revelation. I never believed that filling out my profile and making a few posts would ever generate face to face interactions. I have had similar occurrences at work over the past weeks as well, which is just further evidence that there is more to social media that meets the eye.

In addition to what I have learned about the various technologies and user experiences in the myriad social apps we are using, I have become much more open to the idea of social media. That doesn’t mean I am 100% converted to all of the apps out there, but I will continue to use many of these channels to stay connected to the world — in moderation of course. Nobody wants to appear like an Aggies fan.

As for the weeds…I am still weighing that one out.

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