Technology has made us lazy: Debunking 5 social media myths

October 23, 2011

Public relations, Social media


Social media and technology have made us lazy when it comes to our F2F relationships. (Image credit:


What did you think when you saw this cartoon? Did you laugh? Did you think it was sad? Did you think it was a bit off because really, we do all of these things with a smartphone and not a computer.

I had all of those thoughts. But in the end, I just thought what I think about all cartoons I deem worth sharing. It resonated because it’s true. And the whole image, but especially the “connecting with people” part, said one thing to me — technology has made us really lazy.

Social media is great. Technology is great. They’ve changed the way we live, mostly for the better. But somewhere along the way, we decided that they were a great excuse for us to see a lot less of people face-to-face. And if you think I sound  a lot like your mom telling you she doesn’t see why you waste all that time on “The Facebook,” well, I can see where you’re coming from. But I think we really need to dispel some myths about how great social media and technology have made our lives and our relationships.

1. Relationships built solely through social media are weak bonds. Someone asked a question the other day that I think puts this point in a perfect light. Take the people you know in person and then the people you know just online. Then imagine you have a significant ask for both groups. Maybe a donation to a charity or to help you move to a new house. Which group is more likely to take action and help you out?

2. Social media should not be driving communication strategy. I’ve written about this before, but really, companies don’t need a social media strategy. Social media is a set of tools and platforms. Brands need a strategy on how to reach customers and social media can be a part of the way they make that strategy a reality. As an example, I have been lucky enough to work with a company this year that sees the value in IRL meetups with their customers and we have used social media to document and share the meetup experience with those who can’t be there in person. We’ve also used it as a way to stay in touch with these customers after the in-person event is over. But social media is not the strategy. It’s a means to activate the strategy and achieve our goals.

3. You cannot be successful in life just sitting behind a computer. You ever seen or heard of a CEO, executive or even successful business person that got to that level without a significant amount of face-to-face interaction? Of course you haven’t, because it doesn’t happen. If you aren’t going taking advantage of opportunities to connect with peers and colleagues in person, you’re cheating yourself. People do business with people they like, know and trust. And 99 times out of 100, you have to meet someone IRL to truly like, know and trust them. Because as Sean McGinnis noted in a Facebook conversation that stemmed from this cartoon: “Strong bonds can begin online but are usually solidified in person, in my experience.”

4. Strong relationships formed online take a LOT of time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a room with someone who has suggested a person or a company “just use social media to meet a lot of new people and tell their customers about their programs.” Sure, you can do that. If you do, you’ll fail. Or create a small blip that is not sustainable. But go ahead. There is a big difference between liking a post here and tweeting a post there versus actually putting in the time to build relationships online. It’s much harder and takes much more effort to gain someone’s trust behind a computer screen. To develop a strong relationship with a peer or customer, you’ve got to put in the time. Shelly Kramer, Zena Weist and Danny Brown are all very good at this if you’re looking for examples.

5. It is not a good thing if you are spending more time “hanging out” online than talking to your family. I have been guilty of this in the past and am trying to work on it. Seriously, it’s not healthy. Worrying about posting one more status update or checking on more @ reply when a family member or friend is sitting in the same room with you is kind of sad. Just don’t underestimate the value of the relationships you have with the people you see every day, frequently or even just a few times a year. Those are your strongest relationships, personally and professionally. Treat them as such.

Do you agree that technology and social media has made us lazy? Or am I just getting old and next thing I know I’ll call a 25-year-old a whippersnapper? What other myths would you add to the list? Look forward to your thoughts in the comments.

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seanmcginnis Thanks for the RT, sir.


jgoldsborough My pleasure. Good stuff with even better recommendations.