Friday, September 21, 2007

Are we pushing against the rock?

. . . As I see the (daily) technology changes in our world, I often wonder why we are or are not inclined to adopt them into our lives. This past week, I was discussing my interest in social networking with some other professionals, and realized that there's some serious potential for this phenomenon in many facets of our lives. But do we treat social networking sites (not social networks) like the rock in the story that made the email rounds a while ago?

The parable goes like this . . .

A young man asks God what He wants him to do with his life. God tells him to push a rock near where they are talking. The man does as he is told for a very long time. With much frustration, the man says to God, "I've done what you've told me to do and I haven't even moved the rock at all." God replies, "I didn't tell you to move the rock. I told you to push it. Look at your hands and arms and how strong they are. Look at the strength of your body that you obtained by pushing on that rock all of these years." (more at

So are social networking sites a rock that we are using to hone our networking and communication skills? Are they a welcome diversion from our "real" lives, where the closest we come to socializing with our co-workers is the time between the parking lot and the cubicle, and we only see our neighbors as we drive by and waive while they are retrieving their mail?

Social networking sites have been referred to as everything from an "excellent time-saver" to a "a complete waste of time." I recall about a decade ago that this range of descriptions applied to something we now find fairly useful -- email.

I'm thinking we can and should use social networking sites for getting to know other people. We as humans need to have the perspective of others in our lives -- even if it's so we can get a periodic reality check from someone who doesn't think just like we do (and who is not scared of us).

I'm thinking we can, once we get to know them, use social networking sites to interact with people to see how we can work together (or in some cases, to determine how many miles we should separate form each other). It's not just the business-minded that work best when there is a collection of efforts working together. Those in the public sector can benefit from this interactive cvollaboration, as well.

And, I'm thinking once we get to know people and spend some time working with them, we may be able to use those social networking sites to find mutually beneficial, long-term activities in which we can collaborate. These may be personal or professional, but they ultimately are guaranteed to benefit all those with whom we are connected.
What do you think?

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