Enslavement vs Enablement Factors
Social networking technologies develop a momentum of their own which takes individuals beyond the point of counter productivity at which they become self-defeating. While the phenomena of social networking technologies appeals the some of our basic human needs it also appeals to human weaknesses and reveals our insatiable appetites. Consider the following questions and issues. We establish virtual relationships for what gain? For the most part the largest user segment in many networks are employment recruiters. This segment uses the medium to find individuals to fill open positions for corporations. The technology enables recruiters to reach more people and to qualify individuals more effectively. Those looking for jobs also benefit from spreading their profiles throughout the networked world and recruiters benefit from being able to access large pools of talent efficiently.
Beyond employment processes what is the individual objective? Much of the convenience social networking occurs by inconveniencing others. The craze for having a large network for example, appeals to the competitive nature of human beings to be the biggest, most connected individual in any one network. People spend countless hours building the numbers in their network, not the relationships. This process ignites a flurry of invitations from numerous networks and our email boxes fill up as if to indicate some level of importance or value. Human nature wants to reply and in doing so we become enticed with the possibility of new relationships with much of the motivation being “wonder what I could get from this person”.
The Hidden Game Appeal; Many adults are intrigued by the phenomena of social networking and will spend countless hours engaged in the game. It is a game when you consider what operators know and users do not. Operators understand the appeal of new technology when it is designed around ” basic human needs for relationships, significance and wanting not to be left out of the “latest and greatest”. Knowing this operators launch new networks aimed at targeted consumer interest, new features to intrigue the masses, new functions that promise new efficiencies and network growth that promotes being able to reach more people. The masses follow the appeal and the cycle of intrigue is designed to keep the masses engaged. Network operators are motivated to establish technological relationships with their customer with the aim of drawing in the masses so the networks economic value increases. The economic value of the network is aimed at satisfying the shareholder, not the users. When was the last time you were asked to “build a relationship” with the executives or major shareholders of the network you use? Not often but there are some owners who do reach out to members, i.e. Ecademy.
Case in point, Vincent Wright, moderator of My LinkedIn Power Forum and dozens of other forums has spent over four years moderating discussions in over 200,000 threads and much aimed at encouraging people to network using Linkedin. Vincent called himself The Chief Encouragement Officer and was loyal to LinkedIn beyond measure. He worked seven days a week and easily spent twelve hour days moderating forums. Vincent’s occupation was that of a recruiter and he used the forums and LinkedIn to connect employers with potential employees. After over four years of relentlessly providing a service for the benefit of users and for LinkedIn he recently concluded there was no economic return for his loyalty or efforts. LinkedIn did occasionally send him Thank you notes and coffee mugs.
Was LinkedIn obligated to pay Vincent for his efforts? No but if LinkedIn was interested in establishing relations with over 6,000 power users who frequented Vincent’s forums they would have at least seen the value and provided some form of economic support. They did not nor will any network operator. Additionally all the forums Vincent moderated were done so using Yahoo Groups. Yahoo forums provide Yahoo economic returns based on the traditional advertising model. Yahoo also occasionally thanked Vincent for his work and they also sent him coffee mugs. Do we get the point yet?
Enslavement or Enablement? What is unique about technological advancements is that some people become enslaved by the technology while others figure out ways to be enabled. Those that create the technology do so with a purpose. The purpose is to make money using technology to appeal to the human and business needs which drive mass adoption. Much of the marketing buzz about technology promotes its benefit but never do we see the scope of our cost for adopting the latest and greatest technological advances.Technology can become a detriment to our time, our relations and our economic standing if you aren’t investing mindfully with a view to a financially viable outcome. Technology can also become and enabler of opportunities to leverage the medium for our own individual gains. Our gains must be definable and useful to our individual purposes.
A purpose driven life is grounded in relationships which produce different outcomes. Enrichment comes in many different forms but the basic tenant of enrichment across all forms starts with a relationship.The Relationship Economy is about leveraging technological advances that enable us to enrich our lives economically, relationally, spiritually and in many other forms.
We must ask ourselves “are we enslaved by technology or enabled?” What say you?
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