Do you remember back in the late 90’s when life seemed very simple? News travels either by the local radio channel or people talking. Back then, things were so simple that trust and social interactions were not things that we have second thoughts about. Of course on a day-to-day basis, there may be some gossips, but it’s like it never mattered as much as it does these days. Now that social media is adopted in almost every inch of the world, words become painful, trust is almost impossible to gain, and everyone else is just more self-centered. So is it safe to say that social media may be giving us instant communication but also driving us apart? Something to think about.
Let’s start with families at home, surrounded by their neighbors, friends, and even other family members of the same community. Don’t you think that things were more social back then compared to how we are these days? I remember my family and other relatives in the community on how we used to gather almost every weekend and have small family parties, enjoy delicious meals together, and just be social with one another. Having such ability to come together as one, our society functions effectively. We had trust among us and say in terms of social capital (figure 1), the community does function effectively.
But what about in the workplace? I’ve had some past experiences with how employers deal with social media and let me tell you, it is quite surprising sometimes. One time I was working with our government’s national archives division and employees were not permitted to use any form of social media during work hours. Our division director even hired a computer networking group to get into our system and block such sites. The idea is that he does not want his employees to be spending too much time online rather than doing the work. So what happens is that whenever us employees have issues or suggestions, we take it right up to the director’s office. In terms of digital, we used simple emails just to get documents through.
Now from what I’ve studied so far in this paper, I do believe that a workplace without interaction is not a workplace at all. And that is what I experienced with the job I mentioned above. We rarely interact with fellow employees or even the boss himself. You just stay in your office and if called upon, then that’s when you get to talk.
In comparison to my most recent job, things were done very differently. I was working with a computer repairs company and our boss had opposite ways of managing. There were only a few of us employees, since it is a private company, and most of the time we work together as a team. We were ENCOURAGED to use social media to keep in contact at all times, with fellow employees and the boss of course, and introduce our services to the general public. I saw that using social media to promote the business was greatly effective that posting flyers. Few days later into the job and I felt like I was home. I can walk up to the boss and talk anytime I want. We can even share jokes and teach one another new things. To me, it’s like working with friends, learning together and doing what we love. Interactions were so good and everyday after 5, all of us sit down for 30 minutes, sharing new ideas, suggestions, or even recommendations for the next day. Everyone gets to have a say in everything! In the end, trust was earned among us. Oh and on the weekends, we would go for picnics, have a few beers and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Now what better social capital can there be?
Social media is great for organizations but as long as there is TRUST to mitigate issues like information safety, nothing can go wrong. Some employers may see things differently, probably due to culture and keeping with the traditional ways. However, all we can do is keep introducing the benefits to social media implementation and hopefully things will improve as time goes. Here is a quick video of how social media help both the employees and the business itself.