#disconnected

The Great Resignation

Web3 and the Metaverse

Hybrid Working

https://unsplash.com/photos/zgPzWSAiY48

I’ll stop there because these are the headlines of the day around the world of work and the — potential — shifts in how things are.

There’s something that ISN’T grabbing any headlines but I’m seeing it.

A great disconnect.

I don’t know about you, but Elon Musk buying Twitter isn’t worth sharing an ironic tweet about.

There was a time when that platform dominated the time I spent connecting, sharing thoughts and content, posting and getting to know more people.

Now it’s an inbound “citizen news” channel for me. One which I “feed” very little into. And I’ve grown to be very comfortable with that. For me, Br*xit in 2016 and the Previous Guy in the US killed Twitter for me.

Facebook, same. Gave up on posting there pretty quickly into the pandemic. What do you post? “Day 93 in lockdown?” Though it has given some renewed connections outside of physically meeting people, but as a content platform, it’s non-existent in my go-to places for discovery and enlightenment.

Instagram. Glossy, and sometimes artful. Easy to browse in a filler in the day at some point but equally, under-enlightening. Mental fast-food.

Slack communities? I’ve many. I’m hardly there. It’s not significant enough in my world to make a difference. BUT it does act as a super-strong connecting point to the team People and Transformational HR Ltd. and in that respect, it’s a glorious connection. Outside of that, seriously limited.

Whats App groups? Noise, alert anxiety. Great for organising a night out. As a social feed channel, awful scrolling marathons.

Ironically, the oft-derided LinkedIn feed is actually the place where I’m getting the most value and traction. It is less sensationalist, less vitriol and more enlightening (even with the humble brags, virtue signalling and sales techniques).

My sense is we’re a bit tired of the constant posting, posturing and positioning ourselves as someone/something of interest. Many of us are showing up as more choosy, select and thoughtful. And when the antagonists do post, we don’t engage.

Some might say “this is not a good sign as there’s no healthy debate”. But I am less sure those posting something provocative are interested in debate.

They’re interested in a declaration.

I’ll also admit to that.

Debate though? Well, there’s some thread engagement and replies but largely, “my point remains”. Little or no retracting or “thanks for adding/making me think”.

And a blog post— good luck on even getting a like these days. Certainly, no comments in the thread as it was in the heady days of 2014–15

The great disconnect then? Maybe.

Or — as the smart Hung Lee predicted several years ago — Small Social.

Not echo chambers (although they may be) but smaller, more tightly constructed and useful social networks.

Kinda like it was pre-2004 eh?

We humans have a habit of “snapping back” like the rubber-band metaphor. BUT not always how it was before. Adapted, different but very similar in concept and construct.

And I’m OK with that.

The nature of the relationships built solely online is both incredible and traverses the entire world but are also wispish, vague and disposable.

You have to work at it. Find the stimulation, connection, the shared interests and make a commitment. Be pretty regular. Private/Direct message exchanges. Small social.

So maybe it’s more a great disconnect from the masses and a more light-touch browse until you find those you want to be part of your Small Social. More meaningful. More enlightening. More real.

These past 2 weeks saw several larger gatherings of lots of people who I connected with online. Did I — for one second — feel a sense of missing out?

No.

I actually felt a sense of relief that I didn’t have to be there and exhaust myself with thin ties, loose connections and so on. It was heartening to see people I do have care, respect and regard for connecting with others. But it wasn’t for me.

So have I disconnected? Partly. Maintaining a HUGE social network is exhausting and has been, in many ways, glorious and a real let-down.

I think the systems are shifting through how we are with them. Being able to choose not just consume (and the drink from the fire-hose metaphor) seems to be coming through for us.

Thought leader fatigue is another thing. If I see one more savvy marketing pro “word confetti” post it’ll be one too many. Cliche-strewn, barely subject to evidence-based research and again, mental fast-food, isn’t helping.

The irony of this post isn’t lost on me because I have no research to back this up, just my own experiences. So if this is a brain-fart to you, I’m sorry if it’s a waste of time reading it but it’s OK with me if you don’t want my shares in your Small Social construct.

Thoughtful blog posts, articles and research-led deductions ARE helpful and do still present a lot of my time online. The authors are not loud-hailing protagonists. They’re deeply thoughtful provocateurs of enlightened thinking and experience. I’m more strongly drawn to those than ever before, and that’s good.

So maybe a great disconnect is more a great awakening of choice, connoisseurship and control.

For more on the psychology of the web, I’d recommend you look at the work of Jaron Lanier, Evgeny Morozov, Nicholas Carr, Nathalie Nahai and Nir Eyal.

I’m reading a lot of books. I’m looking at how more of the practices I’m engaged in can be research-led and seeking out less brain fast-food and more nutritional content.

I’m also practising more Small Social. So yes, I think I’m a part of the great disconnect.

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Perry Timms

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017–2021 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan