A dear friend of mine laughingly calls me a techno-geek at least once a week. Yes, I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve dabbled in Instagram and have clearly been blogging for years. I’ve got apps that collect and organize dozens of interesting and thought-provoking articles each week. And yes, I probably take 15 minutes twice a day to scan through these various sites in search of some good reads, humorous anecdotes, or merely leadership absurdities. So, if that qualifies me as a techno-geek, so be it.
But, what’s the point of it all? Yesterday on Facebook a friend pondered how it is that I have time to respond to their posts so frequently. The clear implication made me laugh out loud. Don’t you ever work??
Here’s why I laughed. It’s true. I am online a lot, probably more than most people (certainly more than most beyond traditional college age).
So, what’s the whole point of it all? For me it’s about community. I know, that sounds a bit hokey to some. And on the surface, it may be. But take a step deeper and explore what that really entails. I mean, what’s wrong with traditional communities in our lives, and how can these new online communities enhance our lives personally and professionally?
Let’s be honest, we’ve developed a society in which we’ve politicized nearly everything. Truly undecided voters are either politically apathetic or brain dead (or both). In society and organizations, the rolls of the haves and have nots has rarely been so clearly defined as they now are. Upwardly mobile has become more of a mark of who you know than the true value you can provide, and those with the innovative answers in organizations more frequently pose a greater risk to the powers that be than they are elevated by their contributions.
Enter the regrowth of organization communities of practice, groups of individuals more intellectually motivated than egoistically insecure. These are groups who bond over the scholar-practitioner pursuit of industry, organizational, or societal solutions, less concerned over who receives ultimate credit than providing the stepping stones for improvement.
Are my blog followers, my Facebook friends, and my fellow Twitterholics cut from the same cloth? Some certainly are. After all, the law of social media attraction (I just made that up) may do more to bring like people together than promote diversity, but I like to think that I both intentionally and inadvertently draw smart folk with divergent perspectives into conversation, as well. Yes, sometimes the snide and argumentative tone overwhelms, but for the most part, those in community with me offer intelligent and well thought-out opinions and ideas even when they are in opposition to each other. In fact, that’s a requirement for membership….respectful dialogue even when agreement eludes us. Because THAT is community.
So, whether we’re discussing leadership and organizational culture, the latest political hashtags, or the benefits of quality micro and home brews, it’s about community. We don’t always agree, and we won’t. But where we can find commonality, collective humor, and respectful dialogue in the pursuit of personal and professional goals and objectives, we create the bonds of exploration that will build deeper societal solutions.
After all, if not that, then what’s really the point………?