Fallacy of Cyberspace

It seems that the goal of every young person is the constant updating of their on-line presence, some tweet, some post, but everyone worries, moment to moment, about what is happening to their followers, or those that they follow.

The general term for this behavior is narcissism, in which you are the most important part of your world and it is important that everyone see you in that light.  Of course, if it is not you that is important then it is how you connect to the people that are important to your world.  

While this can be very fulfilling to most people, it also is relatively worthless in the long run.  And, in many cases, can be destructive.  An example may help, a young woman finds a good job, not the greatest job in the world but a job with potential, good compensation and benefits.  After a short period of time on the job, she needs a break because one of her friends is tweeting about the party she is going to.  There is no way that our young employee wants to miss this bash so she calls in sick the next day and spends the day in round of parties and posting of her adventures.  Then the problem - she was not really sick and the company finds out about the partying while playing sick and there are polices, oops, she is out of a job.

The best part is that now she can look back on the posted pictures and videos of her good times and relive those memories while seeking a new job.  Hopefully, she has been smart enough to remove the previous postings just in case any prospective employers want to see what she is up to.

Here is the simple truth, once posted, assume that it is there forever.  Assume, that whatever nonsense you want to post, that it will never go away.  All of those companies that say it is erased in a short period of time, WRONG.  While it may be erased from the active web page, everything is stored somewhere someplace because that is the way our culture is - never throw anything away.  Here is the worst part, if it was seen by anyone, they may have copied for themselves and you can't control that because you don't know who it was forwarded to to shared with or where else it was posted.   This simple warning applies to EVERYTHING that you post, email, tweet, text, whatever.

Now for the worst part - all of this cyber stuff is a waste of your time and energy.  Ask anyone that you know that has a full time job, that works a full week, ask them if the company they work for encourages them to spend their time posting updates?  Does the company give them breaks every 30 minutes or hour to check your status updates and to get the latest on whomever?  Does the company encourage them to take selfies of themselves in the office or while on the job?

It may be surprising but the answer is NO!!  And the reason is very simple, the company is paying you to perform a specific service for them while they are paying you.  This does not mean when it can be fit into your schedule, it means all the time.  It means that the company does not want you to pull out your phone every time it chirps or whistles or rings, it means that the company does not want you to stop working so that you can perform some action which is not part of your job.

Yes, yes,this seems a little one sided, but the question is simple - do you want to be paid or are you going to pay them?  If you want to be paid, isn't it reasonable for the company to expect you to do the functions that they want, at least as long as you want to be paid?  It doesn't matter what you are doing - you cannot do both functions effectively or in many cases accurately or safely.

Perhaps you have seen the commercial about the driver that looks at his phone for just a second and drives over a child in the street or runs head long into another car?  These are not fictional, these are likely occurrences with death being the worst case but just as easily, changing lanes and clipping the driver next to you.

If you want to protect yourself, the smartest thing to start doing right now is to ignore your phone.  Make a habit of checking in every hour, those same messages and texts and tweets will still be there and you may be a little behind the gossip curve but will it matter a year from now or even a week from now?  Once an hour, or when you feel like checking puts you in control of your life, not the self important postings of those you follow.  Perhaps the smartest thing to do would be to actually talk to the people that are important to you and find out what is important to them.

In terms of your job, here is a simple trick: do not respond to anything unless it is an emergency (and make sure that the people that contact you understand the concept of an emergency).  The best habit to develop is to use your phone to receive phone calls.  If you want to communicate with someone, send them a text and arrange to meet, you will find that a selfie smile is not as charming as the real thing.  

There is an old line in the sales world - you can't shake hands over the phone.  Think about that and understand what it means.  When you see someone, face to face, you have the opportunity too read their eyes, their expressions, the tone in their voice, are the nervous, are they jumpy, are they anxious?  All of these indicators mean something depending on the purpose of the meeting, assuming you reach the level that you are invited to these types of meetings.  These are not the meetings that people want posted because these are serious people making serious decisions and posting a selfie just doesn't seem all that serious.

Lastly, all of the time you are spending texting and messaging and posting and updating is more for the benefit of the company whose service you are using because they make money with all that activity.  When was the last time you saw a book on the list of best sellers that was a collection of the posts, tweets and messages?  Will what you say today be important to anyone other than yourself tomorrow?  If not, is there a better use of your time.