I play tennis with an old friend who has a cell-phone that probably came out around the time the first iPod came out. Heck, he doesn’t even know what an iPod is. Or how to text, use Twitter, or how to “like” a Facebook Page. IMHO (in my humble opinion), he is not being the best parent he can be. To be the best parent in these technological times, you must know how to use Social Media.
My other friend, Steve, resisted texting until I prevailed upon him to learn it, since his two boys were getting to that cell-phone appropriate age. To be a smart parent, you need a smart phone. If you have a smart phone, you need to know how to use it. Steve now maintains regular contact with his boys via texting. Yet he, too, resists all other forms of Social Media (hereafter referred to by the acronym, SM).
The common Urban Myth about Twitter goes something like this:
Me: Hey Steve, why aren’t you using Twitter?
Steve: Bruce, I love you man, but I really don’t need to know that you’re at the market, shopping.
That is the common misconception about Twitter. Yes, when it first came on the scene, some people were so jazzed by it that they did declare every little thing that they were doing. Like all new things, Twitter settled into maturity with its present use bearing no resemblance to the above-referenced Urban Myth. I follow and am followed by many thousands of people. My Twitter stream is like the old fashioned stock ticker tape. It is constantly active and moving, yet the number of tweets that resemble this misconception is fractional.
Twitter is used to spread news so much faster than any contemporary means. When Steve Jobs died, I learned about it within minutes of the news via a tweet. And, ironically, at that time I was at a very well known Venture Capitalist firm that was revealing its new SM idea to selected SM mavens, of which I was mistakenly included.
The irony of hearing the sad news about Steve Jobs at that moment was being in an environment where Jobs was viewed as a superstar, an icon, an innovator of generations, and a world changing individual. The further irony for this middle-aged dad was recognizing that I could be the biological dad of just about everyone that was present at this firm.
My personal journey in SM mirrored my tennis buddy and Steve. My initial thoughts were that I didn’t need that stuff. I was fine with my landline telephone, going to Blockbuster and renting VHS cassettes – who needs a DVD player anyway – and otherwise doing the typical parental habit of dissing all that followed everything I learned in high school and college. Ipod? SchmyPod. I had my LPs and cassettes. Twitter? Me? Heck if I’m going to fritter away my time! Facebook? That weird Mark Puckerbug guy! Phooey.
Something told me I needed to learn SM. I began my SM journey when I hired a SM consultant to teach me the ropes. Essentially, I hired a tutor. I went back to school. I began truly exercising my brain. Each new device, new web site, new trick I was taught challenged my comfort zones, my expectations, and helped me stop being my parents. I started to get it. I started to understand the value of SM, the value of staying current, and I’m not talking about current events.
With time, I actually eclipsed by own boy’s SM activity and knowledge. They still laugh at my one-thumb typing on my iPhone and my younger son will always offer to do it faster for me. But I’m more active and involved than either of them in SM. We follow each other on Facebook, we send each other photos by text, email, exchange thumb drives, and we text constantly. Their friends follow me on Facebook and some even “like” my A Dad’s Point-of-View Facebook Page.
I have what I call “Virtual Friends” all over the world. A “Virtual Friend” is someone that I’ve met via Twitter, Facebook, or another SM means and I’ve had regular contact with but never met or even spoken with. Some of them blossom into RL (real life) friends and some become great assets for my work and enriching resources for all that I do.
This knowledge gives me insight into my sons’ lives that I would not otherwise have. My tennis buddy tells me his wife does all that stuff. Steve says it can wait. I say they’re both full of ca-ca. The time is now. Learn it now. Don’t play catch up. And, you may find the same joy and pleasure I’ve found via SM.
Social Media has increased my connection with my boys, made me more knowledgeable and aware of their worlds, and brought me untold hours of joy. Get involved with Social Media now. Not only will you enjoy it, learn, and grow but also you’ll completely enhance your desire to be the best dad or mom you can be.
Get Bruce’s new book and Limited Edition (of 500) Poster, A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation at Amazon, iTunes, BN.com, or The Store here on our web site.