The Dangers of Social Media Imbalance

Social media is quietly forcing an integration of “work” vs. “play” into the mainstream business culture. Networking and socializing used to be quarantined into special times and locations – like conferences, power lunches, and parties. But now virtual cocktail hour and watching cool videos have been integrated into our desktop, inbox and phone with apps and constant reminders that keep us distracted connected.

Social media is forcing an integration of work and play, in business. image: Mike Oleveri & Rev. Xantos

Some companies, consultants and HR administrators are stubbornly resisting social media as an encroachment and liability. And others are guzzling the social kool aid until they’re blasted out of their mind… and then drowning after jumping headfirst into the deep end of it.

The Dangers of Too Much “Work”

Working hard doesn’t always mean working smart. Especially in the fickle, light-speed digital era. Grinding away on a product or project without being dialed into up-to-the-minute news — and without being closely in-touch with the people in your market (a.k.a. “community”) — can be less productive than smoking bong hits or making paper airplanes.

  • You’ll miss connecting with ideal partners, employers and clients. If you’re too busy filling out T.P.S. reports and thinking of your bosses needs more than your own, you’re bound to miss out on some amazing people and opportunities that could have unfolded.
  • Your professional brand will fade into obscurity. All that blogging, Twittering, commenting and networking does help you “stay afloat” in the noisy world and remind people you’re still alive and in business. Without enough social media pulse, people may forget about you.
  • You won’t be able to predict the future.If your nose is always pointed at your inbox and it’s never sniffing about for interesting new trends, you risk becoming obsolete very quickly.
  • You’ll burn out and suffer productivity loss.If you work too much and don’t integrate it with a little bit of fun and spontaneity, you’ll wear down your batteries and the work you complete will be dull and uninspired.
  • You won’t get “big ideas” or see “the big picture.” Sometimes all those funny stories, random links and technological chit-chat can all add up and stimulate your mind towards a huge personal or professional epiphany.

The Dangers of too Much “Play”

The myth that enthusiastic social media use will — somehow, someday — lead to success + profits is quite pervasive. It’s kindled by a few highly-visible “rockstars” who appear to spend most of the day Twittering, partying and flying around to speak at conferences – and they make it seem so easy. But in reality, they’re just as rare as professional surfers whose day job involves riding waves on exotic islands while getting their picture taken. For 99.9% of people who surf, that’s just a pipe dream.

  • You’ll get too consumed with doing favors for other people. The more people you have in your network, the more you get “sucked in” doing favors that will help them but don’t pay any direct dividends for you. You can easily spend all day scratching people’s backs and not watching your own.
  • Your stress and anxiety will rise.Procrastinating your profit-producing work to take care of all your endlessly-time-consuming social media obligations can be very stressful. You can dig yourself in such a deep productivity “blackhole” that you’ll keep distracting yourself as an anesthetic, rather than climb out and get back to all the work you’re behind on.
  • You’ll become jaded. Too much indulgence in social media chatter and events is like eating too many frosted chocolate doughnuts. You’ll become sluggish and clouded, and you’ll be too stuffed with “junk” to notice the few rare gems that pass right on by you.
  • You’ll never make your “big idea” actually happen. Social media can give you great ideas, and it can also take away the time and focused attention you need to make them a reality.

Social Media Success = Vigilance, Self-Awareness and Balance

Social media unlocks both a multi-verse of new opportunities, and a minefield of new opportunity costs. The freedom and choices granted by social media tools come with demands for more responsibility: being accountable and self-aware about how you spend your time. And being clear about your goals and staying focused on the specific people and tasks that will help you achieve them.

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