First off, I'm an avid iPhone and Twitter user. I have nothing against checking emails, replying to text messages, seeing if anyone has tweeted about me, reviewing blog posts or watching a quick, funny YouTube video. I fully embrace all of these activities and partake in them every day but I also believe there should be some ground rules. I'm not asking for much. Just be present. That may sound like a lot to some but it's really not, especially since people managed to live their lives without computers, internet or cell phones for quite some time. Remember when we were kids? Remember the stories our parents told us about when they were kids?
Now that computers and the web encompass our basic cell phone or tablet, it's hard for us Millennials to understand how anyone could ever live without instant text messages, emails, or Facebook updates from our friends across the city or across the country. I'm in awe of the brilliant business and life tools that have come with the web and I'm excited to see where they're headed.
However, I'd like to posit that what is far more important then texts or Facebook updates are the people and wonders around you. I've learned more from the people I've met in airports and coffee shops then I ever have from a friend's status update. All of my meaningful relationships grew in real life and all of the amazing monuments I've seen were made better by just being there and observing. Though, I will proudly acknowledge that Twitter has been one of the greatest business tools I've yet to encounter and has lead me to meetings with some incredibly talented, creative and important people that I wouldn't have been able to meet without an initial tweet. But how the relationship grew was when I spoke with these creative people and were present in our conversation.
I believe there's value in tweeting/texting/facebooking important and interesting things in the right company so I'd like to propose a few digital etiquette guidelines:
1. Share influential ideas. Nobody cares about our daily routine, famous one-liners, or senseless drama. Though this has been said countless times, I'd just like to take a moment to reiterate since I continue to see tweets and FB updates about current bagels being eaten, "life is like a box of chocolates...," or the ever-present, "sometimes I just hateeee boys." Instead, if we use these tools wisely, maybe interesting people will want to talk to us. Sharing intriguing content that applies to our audience will help us get jobs!
2. Create and maintain an audience. This is key. Inevitably we all have audiences but we also have the power to create an audience who will be loyal and help us grow by giving us useful feedback and sharing useful content. Write about things you know, care about and are interested in. An employer will notice if we have cultivated a loyal group of followers who are interested in what we have to say. Ultimately, tweet smart.
3. People over device. If we're with our friends, be with our friends. People should trump devices every time. I can't stand when I'm with someone and they don't have enough respect for me to focus on me and our conversation. It's pretty simple, I'm here and the person your texting is not. Not only are you favoring the person that's not here, you're also participating in something that I can't participate in because I have no idea what you're typing about on your small device.
4. Be present. Even with a medium. If we're going to watch TV, we should watch it, and that's about it. Texting, tweeting, facebooking, browsing the web, AND watching TV seems like a tad much. We Millennials are guilty of indulging in all mediums at once. Our brains are built to focus on one thing at a time and every time we move our eyes from the TV to our phones, we're changing our focus. Love the TV. Love the tablet. Love them separately.