Resistance 101

Got a double whammy from two incidents today, which ended up playing this sad theme in my head over and over again: certain business practitioners prefer (and would only practice) networking face-to-face over networking vitually, and they go further to imply that social media is not really an effective networking tool.

It’s not so much the preference over traditional face-to-face networking that got my attention, as it was the feeling of fear and resistance over a new approach or model to networking.

autom8 iconAt best, on a philosphical level, this merits further thought and exploration.

Below are some attempts at fleshing out some factors that influence this phenomenon. Perhaps during the course of this reflection, certain considerarions may point to why people so readily deny themselves the sweet taste of change.

Fear leads to a Star Trek reference
The first scenario I came across was in the form of a blog. It reads as any corporate blog that offered up an intriguing forward-thinking headline and then three paragraphs into it eventually railed on about how the ‘ole tried and true’ will eventually prevail.

‘Technophobia’ could easily be stamped to classify the file on this type of defensive behaviour. Though I doubt that in this case the fear factor is rooted in technology.

I think some people are quite simply afraid of fundamental change that will replace their existing sets of empirical truths—axioms, techniques, methods, etc., which have so far contributed to their own longstanding success. So much so that they automatically cling to the ‘tried n true’ in the face of a revolutionary movement that threatens to shake the confines of their existing knowledge base. Worse, they fail to see how such change can in fact add to or enchance what already works for them.

autom8 icon“Why bother trying to make any sense out the social media noise? It can’t possibly have an effect on me..” But look at the state of journalism now and what one blogger had to say about it. I got the sense from his piece that his overall feeling is still that of resistance, as he refers to what he’s going through as “experimentation”. Why not just call it “adaptation”?

The Borg in sci-fi’s Star Trek refer to resistance as being a futile attempt against assimilation. At least social media assimilation won’t require cybernetic implants. Yet.

Evangelization is not Education
The second whammy happened in a flash. And yes, Billy Graham, Tammy Fay Baker and that whole crew were all wizzin’ by. 

I’ve noted a few tweets where people are actually going out of their way to ‘evangelize’ and spread the social media word. I suppose, as a figurative description of the intent to promote the wonders of social media, it stands to reason that using this term makes sense.

However, evangelization in its purest sense is actually closer to proselytizing than it is to education. There’s a coercive element to the conversion process, rather than an intellectual openness that is typical of higher learning.

Is it possible that the fervid, wanton and maniacal approach behind evangelizing social media knowledge actually elicits a strong visceral response to resist?

autom8 iconDifferent Means to Common Goals
At the end of the day, networking does and continue to exist in many forms. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really be networking now would it?

Ultimately, whether one business practitioner chooses to network face-to-face with clients and prospects or blog and tweet his/her way to drum up business is, in effect, dictated by what’s most strategically effective.

Any means of networking invariably aims towards the same goals: to connect, to interface, to secure alliances, to build relations, to become part of something larger.

It would be encouraging to see lesser resistance to web-based value propositions, which offer new and improved ways to build sustainable client-based networks and the like.

Privacy and Security
Now before capping it all off, there are couple of things which have always struck me as critical elements to social media but are rarely discussed in blogs.

Often I have to scour through corporate-geared content to get a sense of what the overall sentiment is over privacy and security in social media networks.

One close friend and esteemed colleague is quite resistant to Twitter for the very reasons surrounding privacy and security. A recent article in Computerworld clearly outlines the very concerns voiced by my colleague. Below highlights a key point from this article:

autom8 icon..anything you post to any one of the services will immediately be federated or syndicated to the others. This replication and distribution of data makes it difficult if not impossible to take things back.

Never mind the potential conflict of interest that could later arise from this scenario. How about the fact that data is permanently logged somewhere in some database over which you have no full control?

Reason enough to resist?

While the majority of us is all atwitter over the growing social media bubble, most of the corporate world remains reticent, especially when considering integration of social media tools in a corporate environment.

But very soon, I have a feeling this will all change.

7 thoughts on “Resistance 101

  1. Great post! It’s funny, because I come across people like this often that fear the paradigm shift of adding social media to their networking arsenal. Not to stereotype age groups, but this problem seems to fall mostly with the older professionals in there late 40’s and up. I think this new social medium struck most people too quickly… you know how it is… a technology comes out and lingers for a few years before it builds up a little momentum. Then once that fire is started it is very hard to control its growth! Now considering today’s economy, individuals and company’s are going to need to accept this reality. They will need leverage what will only make them stronger and shine, or stay they will static and get eaten… CHOMP!

  2. Some really good point, thanks. I think you are spot on with your observations about the evangelizing. From a change management perspective the evangelists are the people I most want to hide from the campaign. They are dead-set sure to create resisters where there were once none.

    Mind you, I’m not sure I agree with Aaron’s implications about older professionals in their late 40’s needing Social Netorking via Social media.’If they are alreday established and have been doing it really well for a number of years the old school way, SM networking is an ‘opt-in’, not a necessity.

  3. I agree with the ‘opt in’ approach as well, particularly where it concerns traditional orgs, well assimilated in their use of technology but inherently reliant on paper-based documentation and communication, where the face-to-face interaction is in fact a given, not an option.

    Although speaking on Aaron’s behalf, I believe he was implying that the late 40’s+ crowd (of which I’m happy to be part of btw) are resistant for reasons surrounding privacy and security. In my view, that’s really the main source of resistance from corporate orgs.

  4. Jennifer,

    Autom hit it pretty accurate. The point I was trying to get across is that all businesses are being effected in some way during this economic crisis (small, mid, and large). How long and establish one is in business doesn’t hold as much water as it use to. Even if a business is thriving financially, there is still the need to continue to build brand loyalty and provide customer service in ways that people are growing to adapt today.

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