Social Media Should Not Replace In Person Communication

Like many things, social media has its pluses and minuses.
I suspect I’m like many when I say I enjoy Facebook for the convenience of being able to stay in touch with a wide variety of friends and family that I wouldn’t have been able to without the ease of social media.
From past work colleagues and classmates to neighbors and far flung family, Facebook enables me to catch glimpses of their lives and to share snippets of mine (mostly dog pics). It makes me feel at least nominally connected to people I care about but in all honesty would never have time to call, take to lunch or visit. It also enabled me to discover a fantastic song called “Debris” by the Faces, thanks to music guru Steve Martel (thanks Steve).
But there’s also a dark side to social media—where trolls, cyber bullies, rumors and outright lies thrive.
On balance, I’ll take the bad because I think the upside and potential of social media far outweighs the negative.
The good, bad and ugly of social media is being debated loudly these days in the wake of the strangest and most divisive election most of us have ever seen. I assiduously avoid national politics on my Facebook page but many of my friends on both sides of the gaping divide had a field day this cycle.
I watched in real time long standing relationships blow up over posts and comments and it saddened me.
I suspect a few Thanksgiving celebrations may have different rosters as a result of social media posts.
And it’s not just national elections that get us overheated. Local politics is also rife with anger and recrimination.
I keep an eye on this page in Boca that can get lively. I’ll shield the names to protect the innocent, but this was an exchange last week regarding a luxury hotel coming to town.
It follows a typical pattern.
Someone expresses happiness that a project is coming.
Someone else quickly replies that the project stinks, will ruin the city and create traffic jams.
The person, who was happy a second ago, replies that his neighbor should move if they don’t like what’s happening. Usually it’s not a polite: “why don’t you consider a locale where you might find bliss”, nope it’s typically a variation of “shut up and move if you don’t like it.”
And now we are off to the races: fighting words like: whining, greed and moron are exchanged and we descend from there until it finally burns out only to be rekindled when someone else joins in and expresses an opinion about how things “used to be” or the need for one thing or another. It’s exhausting and I’m not sure what it all adds up to.
Did we learn something?
Did we solve anything?
I think there’s some value in expression, but this kind of stuff hardly qualifies as dialogue.
I just finished an interesting book: “I’m right and you’re an Idiot” which explains why people get dug in and offers some insights into how to bridge divides and achieve some measure of civility and compromise.
One giant takeaway is that “facts” hardly matter—oh sure some people will change their mind if presented with evidence, but many won’t regardless of how much you throw at them. People do respond to stories and emotion, but typically once they adopt a narrative and a world view it’s hard to budge them. Social media only amplifies that human trait.
I think social media is an amazing tool for a public official or anyone in a leadership position. I think if you are in office you should be using social media to connect to constituents and to explain your positions and also solicit input. But it is NOT a substitute for face to face human interaction and real life interaction.
A lot is lost online—we’ve all been burned by email, text messages and social media posts—because we can’t see body language or ask for clarification like we can when we are face to face.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as I’ve seen families fight and friends “defriend” and “block” each other.
Social media platforms have had an odd response to this difficult and complex environment.
Twitter has suspended accounts and has been blasted for doing so. The service says it is ridding the platform of hate speech; those who have been booted are crying censorship.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has argued that “false news” (like the Pope endorsing Trump which was shared, liked and cited thousands of times) didn’t have an impact—in the next breath he’s selling advertising on his site because of its ability to influence decisions. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. And yes, Facebook ads work. I can personally attest because I have sold a few books with Facebook ads and we have sold a bunch of hot sauce and beverages by promoting our brands on the site. Like it or not, Facebook is our water cooler these days. It matters.
I would just caution that we don’t limit all of our interactions to social media—there’s still room for meet ups, coffee with friends, group discussions etc. With augmented and virtual reality coming fast, we better leave room for face to face old-fashioned conversation.
We may not ever agree on whether a Mandarin Hotel is the right thing—but it’s not as easy to call someone a moron when he or she is sitting right in front of you.

Coda: A few words about anger.
Social media has the ability to spread a lot of happiness and laughter—and it can also make you angry.
Regardless, there’s no doubt that social media can affect your mood and may affect your behavior in the real world. We need to chill.
The real world can apparently also make you crazy.
Last week as I was leaving my neighborhood I noticed a cyclist lingering near the gate. I inched up so the gate could open. I don’t think he was paying attention and I may have startled him. But I can assure you my intention wasn’t to get up and run someone over. I just wanted to open the gate for both of us and go to work.
It seemed to annoy him. He pulled up to the side of the car, I put the window down. I was treated to a few expletives—and stupidly gave him a few back. He gave me his address and so I gave him mine—not sure why this was necessary but I suspect it wasn’t so he could come over and discuss whether a Mandarin Hotel was good or bad for Boca. If he does come over, I will apologize for startling him, and politely remind him my intention was to open the gate not maim him.
When I relayed the story to a friend, he told me was screamed at by a cyclist and a driver for not crossing the street fast enough for either’s taste.
“Did the extra half second it took for me to get out of the way ruin their day?” my friend asked.
Probably not. But that’s just a guess.
Relax…breathe…exhale…(I so need to take this advice).

7 Essential Traits of Leaders

With an historic presidential election behind us, the topic of leadership in America and in our communities has become a front burner discussion. Here’s a few thoughts on what we think are essential attributes for leaders at any level of government, business, non-profits and academia.

7 Essential Attributes: All Seven Are Necessary for Success
“People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right. Don’t try to be a perfect leader, just work on being an authentic one.” –Brad Lomenick

Integrity

Integrity is like the foundation of a house. It’s not the first thing you notice, yet without it, the house won’t stand and all the fancy amenities won’t matter.

So what is integrity? It is saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It’s keeping promises, its resisting temptation to be corrupted and it means telling the truth. But it also means a lot more than just telling the truth. It means not being silent when you see something wrong. It means being able to hold yourself and others accountable and it means always acting ethically.

Quote: “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” –Former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is experiencing or feeling. It means an ability to tune into others, to listen and to understand. Leaders need to be able to connect to people. They need to be able to probe beneath the surface, to sense conflict before it erupts and nip it in the bud and they need to be able to sense the mood in a room and adjust their communication accordingly.
Quote: “Leadership boils down to strong relationships. Before I can be an effective leader I have to know the players, they have to get to know me and we have to trust and know each other.” – Coach K. of Duke.

Emotional Intelligence
Leaders need to understand their blind spots and weaknesses as much as their strengths. They need to evolve and adapt to new challenges. They need to work well with diverse personalities.

Quote: “Until you know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed.” –Warren Bennis.

Vision

Every good leader has vision. Leaders imagine a better future. Visionaries understand that leading is a job to do not a job to have. They are transformational leaders, with a clear vision of a brighter tomorrow. They are able to think long term and focus beyond the daily grind.
Visionary leaders inspire. They are optimistic and they never lose focus.

Quote: “Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.” – George Lucas.

Judgment

Good judgment is essential for effective leadership. Good judgment means good decision making. In leadership positions, you will often have to make dozens of decisions on a regular basis. Sometimes you will be given time and information; sometimes you will have to make quick decisions with little information. As a leader, you can’t afford to be indecisive. You have to answer the call.

Three tips for developing good judgment and making good decisions.
1.Zero in on what’s important
2.See the whole chessboard
3.Take decisive action.

Quote: “Mistakes are not the ‘spice’ of life. Mistakes are life. Mistakes are not to be tolerated. They are to be encouraged.” –Tom Peters
Courage

Leadership is not for the faint of heart. If you want to lead, conflict is inevitable. Leadership means being on the front lines of conflict. It means having the courage to take a stand and know that you will make some people angry. You will make friends and you will lose friends. In leadership positions: you will be tested every day.

Quote: “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” -— Eddie Rickenbacker World War I hero

Passion

Passion is the drive to achieve, to make a difference, to put a dent in the universe. Without passion, without drive, you cannot be an effective leader. You have to wake up every day driven to learn, achieve, master and move toward your goals and vision. Passion drives progress.

Quote: “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” -— Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch