Social Hammer Networks

October 11th, 2013

Some people don’t get social networks. At a higher level, I understand this. There’s a lot to potentially not understand, but at a more basic level I find it somewhat amusing. To say “I don’t get twitter,” in my mind, is like saying “I don’t get hammers.”

It’s maybe not so much that you don’t understand the concept of a hammer, it’s more that you don’t see how a hammer would be useful to you at a given time or in a given way.

Social networks are simply tools. Like hammers, social networks have many functions and uses. Not all of them are helpful all of the time. There is a right way and a wrong way to use them, but some of that is up to the user.

Which leads to a potential problem for me. Telling someone they should “get a Pintrest” (account) carries a lot of baggage with it. When you encourage someone to join a social network, you’re probably expecting them to use that social network in a certain way. It’s like telling someone that they should get a hammer to pull out nails. While that’s a perfectly legitimate use of a hammer, it doesn’t take into account that the person in question might prefer to drive nails with a hammer.

We always expect other people to be like us. This isn’t always the case, but then again, can you blame us? We only have ourselves for reference. It’s very hard to think like someone else when someone else doesn’t think the way we do.

I would argue that “wasting time” is a perfectly legitimate use of a social network. (Which is not to say I condone wasting time, but rather that a social network might be a good means of doing so.) It’s also why I have a great respect for people who know when to pause, deactivate, or delete their accounts. It’s like putting away a tool when it’s no longer helpful.

The biggest problem we encounter is usually when one person’s use of a social network (or lack of use) interferes with the way we use it. That may be bothersome, but it’s no reason to coerce someone into using something they don’t want or in a way that is not helpful to them.

Ultimately, when you think of things in terms of tools, choices become a lot easier. You don’t need to feel pressured to use a hammer if you’re sawing two by fours or screwing floor boards down. You don’t advocate using a chainsaw when a scissors would work just fine.

You need to use tools in a manner which is helpful to you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Likewise, don’t always assume that everyone is going to use a tool the same way you do. Remember, above all else, technologies are tools, designed with intent to make your life easier. If tech is only making your life more difficult, maybe you don’t really need it.