I was reading in the most recent edition of Fast Company, Baratunde Thurston’s article how he decided to #Unplug for 25 days. For 25 days he was not on Facebook, Twitter, Four Square or Instagram.  There was no peeking on friends’ statuses, no quick FB messages, likes or comments. There were no Instagrams of what he was eating.  There were no emails read or sent. He only used his phone to call or text friends to make dates. He focused his time on spending time with friends – in person.

As I read this article, I stared to think about the technology I use daily for business and social. In today’s market, there isn’t really a defining line of when you are “off the clock”, because with our smart phones, we’re always on the clock. This is especially true with us PR folks. Our careers are a lifestyle. If a client sends me a note in the evening, I’ll send a quick reply. I’ll share articles, tweet and re-tweet at all hours.  Social networks run 24/7.

This got me thinking about how we interact on a regular basis. I have an iPhone that I use to share content and communicate information daily –  from texting, sending emails and tweeting, to managing online communities and sharing thoughts and images through blog posts and Instagram. The least used feature on my phone is well, the phone part. I spend more time texting and sending messages through Facebook to friends than I actually talk to them on the phone. I know I’m not the only one here. We all know that times have changed. But have you paused to think about HOW much it’s changed?

What did we do before we were all so #PluggedIn? Before news alerts were sent to your phone? Before you could stream movies and TV? Before Podcasts? Do you remember how you communicated with friends before social networks?  What tools did you use for communicating professionally?  How the heck did we engage audiences and get messages out there?

Do you remember:

  • A time before email?
  • A time before the personal computer?
  • Using a typewriter to draft formal communications?
  • Faxing media releases?
  • Snail-mailing media kits and party invitations?
  • Calling people to make plans? Three-way calling? A land line?  Corded? Rotary!?

Today we have begun to take for granted the speed at which we communicate. We receive instant gratification by sharing content at the press of one button. We have absorbed this 24/7 culture of consumption into our daily lives without even noticing.

There’s an analogy about how if you want to boil a frog you have to slowly raise the water temperature so it doesn’t notice. If you toss one into a boiling pot, it will leap immediately out. That is what has happened to us with social media. The number of tools has risen at a steady pace; and as we adopt more of them into our daily lives, we start to boil without even realizing it. Until one day we do. Then we do just as Thurston did and temporarily #Unplug…

What’s GOOGLE saying about you?

With new social media channels and sharing sites popping up, it’s easy to jump from one new thing to the next.  Especially when you’re an early adopter. But what happens after your initial interest in the property wanes or you decide that the channel just isn’t for you? You stop updating information and forget about it as you move on to the next hot thing.

You may have forgotten about it, but Google hasn’t. Now think about what happens when you are applying for a new job. If someone does an online search of your name does that old information pop up? Does this older information enhance your profile or does it detract? While it’s great to have an archive of your achievements easily accessible for prospective employers and clients, some of the information that is forgotten online can detract from your brand. I’m sure your prospective employer got a kick out of your pics on your now de-funked – and very public – MySpace account.

We joke about people who Google their dates before meeting them in person, but employers do this on a regular basis too. So friends, when was the last time you Googled yourself?

As I am currently looking for a job, I regularly do searches on myself to see what content a perspective employer might come across. What usually pops up are my recent Twitter posts, my LinkedIn profile, links to this blog, Pinterest, old press releases that I sent out and such. And then there’s the other stuff….  There is the Slideshare account I signed up for to so I could access a presentation; my abandoned Classmates info; and an outdated version of my online resume courtesy of Visualze.me (which is now up to date!)

Managing your online and social brand is never ending.  So what’s a professional to do? Here are some tips to get your started:

  1. Be selective of which new social sites you participate in. Don’t jump on every new thing just because it’s new.
  2. If you jumped on the new thing and it’s not for you, shut down or deactivate your account.
  3. In case you just missed that tidbit: SHUT DOWN YOUR ACCOUNT if you are no longer using it. You can reactivate most accounts if you change your mind.
  4. If you have negative or outdated content that is not within your control to remove, start posting new content that is representative of your brand. This will help to drive the outdated stuff farther down in searches.
  5. Be mindful of what you publicly share. Be mindful of what you privately share, because once something is shared; it is really no longer private… and the Internet never forgets. (She says in booming ‘movie voice-over’ voice…)

UBC Day 25: Who gives a Tweet?

Have you ever stopped to think about the tools you use for communicating with friends and family? Chances are they are the same as what we use in our professional lives. Facebook, Twitter, email and text. Sometimes we even use the phone and see one another in person. But mostly we text or Facebook one another. Yup Facebook is a verb.

I read an article called Does Facebook Make Us Lonely, in The Atlantic that suggests people who have active outlets, rather than passive ones are happier. The article defined an active outlet as anything you physically participate in, such as a team sport or social gatherings. Television was labeled as a passive activity, which is no surprise, but so was social media.

“Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier…”

The article suggested that the more time we spend being ‘social’ on social networks, the more dissatisfied we become. This is because while we’re scrolling through our news feeds reading all the seemingly wonderful things that our Friends are posting, we start to compare our lives to these random snippets.

What we fail to realize in these moments of trolling on our social media channels is that very few people share if they are depressed or feeling inadequate. We only see the happy or the angry vent. We don’t really see into someone’s day to day life. Trust me, their lives have dull spots too! However, the more we invest in ourselves, the happier we become. So being social in our physical lives can lead to happiness.

The article asks this fundamental question: Does the Internet make people lonely, or are lonely people more attracted to the Internet?