Sunday, June 3, 2012

SMEM & the Social Media Relationship Shortfall

I recently came across an intriguing article titled: Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication? The article can be found at Forbes and is written by Susan Tardanico. Thank you to @DODASSMC for forwarding on the article.

The main gist of the article hinges on the following statement:
 "As human beings, our only real method of connection is through authentic communication. Studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word. A whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language."
These statistics leads Tardanico to conclude that:
"With all the powerful social technologies at our fingertips, we are more connected – and potentially more disconnected – than ever before.
"Every relevant metric shows that we are interacting at breakneck speed and frequency through social media. But are we really communicating? With 93% of our communication context stripped away, we are now attempting to forge relationships and make decisions based on phrases. Abbreviations. Snippets. Emoticons. Which may or may not be accurate representations of the truth."
What jumped from the screen as I read Tardanico's words was the phrase "forge relationships". 

No matter how hard you try to spin all of the great Social Media advances nothing will ever replace the all important handshake and accepting smile. Social Media will always fall short when it comes to the real human need for relationships.  Real, personal human contact is the only tool that can seal the deal.

Social Media is a great tool, but at the end of the day that is all that it is: a tool.  We certainly can use the tool to help help create relationships but we cannot use the tool alone to forge lasting and meaningful relationships.

So what is the point?  Why should the SMEM community care?  After all, the SMEM community isn't about relationships, its about objective data and information sharing.  The SMEM community is about getting out cold hard facts; it's about finding ways to get information out quickly and accurately.  The SMEM community is thus not about forging traditional human relationships.  Or perhaps I should say that the SMEM community does not require traditional relationships in order to function.

On some levels I think these statements are entirely true.  On other levels, however the statements are completely false.  Certainly we are about getting cold hard data out to the public in an efficient and timely manner.  We don't need to shake everyone's hand to get this done (nor do we want to).  Yet, take a second and stop to think about why you want to get that important factoid out to the public. 

Odds are you are a member of the SMEM community because deep down inside you care about people.  You want your message to reach the ends of the earth because you want to save that one person who needs to hear it the most.  You may not be seeking to forge a relationship with that lost soul but on some level you do care about him.

If it follows that the SMEM community does in fact care for the human man then it should also follow that our response must consider his human needs.  A significant part of that human need rests in his relationships.  If these statements hold true then we can conclude that the SMEM community really does care about human relationships.   We can even go so far as to say that the human relationship is a foundational supporting block for the entire SMEM community.

With this foundation in mind, the SMEM community must acknowledge that we cannot solely rely on Social Media to reach the needs of the souls we are trying to save.  We cannot simply disseminate raw data  without simultaneously reaching out to those directly affected with a real, live and human response.

The final conclusion, thus, is that the SMEM community cannot isolate its efforts within the social media realm alone. The community must realize that the powerful tool of Social Media is just one tool available to the Emergency Manager.  The wise Emergency Manager will certainly use the Social Media tool but she will only use it as part of a wholly integrated strategy that considers the very real relational needs of her impacted community.

Remember, only 7% of human communication takes place in written or verbal form.  This means that 93% of our intended message might be missed if all we do is blindly tweet out 140 characters from behind a cold computer screen. 

1 comment:

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