August 24, 2018 - Issue 18-33

Good afternoon  ,

It's been on my mind for some time to comment about "social" media. Several days ago, I received an email with an interview of my friend Doug Casey (the one who started the ball rolling on my eventual move to Cafayate, Argentina).

That was the catalyst I needed.  Here we go! 

Doug's topic was the folly of social media as a societal phenomenon and as such, as an investment. Doug's look at any issue always includes the investment implications.

Again I'd like to celebrate the value of good solid relationships and of good conversations to nurture those relationships. I made relationships the entire subject of a previous issue, where I opined  that your life is defined by your relationships. Take good care of them!

It's also my belief that conversations take place either face-to-face (ideal) or in live two-way phone (or Skype, Zoom, etc.) meetings. 

Emails, texts and other one-way words-only messages are data exchanges. Such communications are useful for many purposes, but they're  not conversations. The raw words in a conversation convey somewhere between 5% and 10% of the total import, according to many studies. 

The rest of the meaning is carried by: 
  • Body language 
  • Facial expressions
  • Tone of voice
  • Other non-verbal messaging.
None of these are conveyed in a text message, even with pictures and emoticons.

One of the reasons many young people like working from home, I'm told, is that they prefer electronic text communication to live conversations. That tells me they prefer incomplete communication to more complete - hardly a recipe for the most productive work relationship!

The trend toward remote work is finding some success, and that's great - it has a lot to offer in increased time and space efficiency (elimination of desks, commutes, cubicles, "water cooler" chatter, etc.). It's my prediction that its long-term viability will depend on at least occasional (more frequent=better) face to face meetings (and maybe a little "water-cooler" chatter!) among team members and with supervisors. 

All this is a lead-in to the point I started with. "Social" media is decidedly "unsocial". For me, "social" is you and me, and maybe others, in the same room or at least in a live two(or more)-way exchange on the phone. Passing text messages and pictures back and forth leads to self-centered "look-at-me" communication. It is communication, but it's not conversation and it's not very social. I find 90-99% of it to be a boring waste of time. 

Seems to me Facebook's and Twitter's recent woes stem largely from the fact that there's a limit on the amount of time (168 hours/week) people can waste. Doug goes into even more reasons they're  probably doomed. 


John Stevens

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About John

Throughout a career spanning over 45 years my management style has been one of building teams to bring several competent people together to focus on a common objective. I noted early in my career that, in most organizations, there is an enormous amount of time, energy, and effort wasted by people working at cross purposes.

As I transition to life in the Argentine outback, my focus shifts from coaching to helping other business coaches and advisers get their message out to their prospective clients. With my first-hand knowledge of the benefits of effective business coaching, I am uniquely qualified to work with business advisers of all stripes convey their message.

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John B. Stevens, Freelance Copywriter

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