Back Yesterday: Reclaiming Social Media

As leaders, it is our responsibility to know what is valuable from the past and make sure it continues on into the future. As Americans celebrated their Nation’s freedom this past weekend on Independence Day, many salient traditions, memories, and valuable things from the past were recently celebrated and maintained.

Keeping traditions and valuable elements from the past alive and well is a big job and it extends to many aspects of our lives. Not only is it important to sustain national, societal, and religious traditions, this need also extends to communication traditions, as well.

This means that we need to understand what is taking place in our national and global mindset and make sure that new developments in communication applications and styles do not overstep their intended usefulness.

Here is a new one…

As a communicator in the business of watching and anticipating trends,  I’ve noticed a disturbing new use of the word “back.”  Until the PDA Age, “back” was reserved for events that happened long ago, or at least in distant memory:  “Back at the turn of the 20th Century.”  Now “back” is increasingly closer to the front:  “Back in June, 2009.”   Soon I expect to hear a news report that Obama gave a speech on the economic stimulus “back yesterday.”

A colleague opened a consultancy this year that specializes in reaching leaders with a “blackberry-attention-span.”  Never mind that new study shows that 10% of Twitter users produce 90% of tweets, and 50% of Twitter account users don’t tweet at all.  Maybe we need to pass legislation to create incentives for writers to use “word credits,” much like manufacturers use “carbon credits.”  The so-called greenhouse affect isn’t limited to carbon producers.

In addition, cute text-speak language like “I am so happry 4u” to mean that “I am so happy for you” does not always translate to people who are in your network around the globe. “4u” for “for you,” or”cyal8r” for “I will see you later” is very practical, but can stretch an already hyper-change in communications.

So, a simple proposal:  Let’s re-claim social media.

Instead of answering the self-serving Twitter question, “What are you DOING?”, let’s take the longer view and discuss what we are LEARNING today.   Let’s give each day its 24 hours, and give our minds a chance to absorb, discern, and collaborate.  Let’s do this even when we reply to a blog post, text, or tweet from “back yesterday.”

So, as a leader, what are some of your challenges in keeping pace with new communication changes? How is the generation entering the workforce changing long-standing communication methodologies. Do you text message on your cell phone? Do you instant message? What traditions have you kept in place to moderate or “crock-pot” this social networking “microwave” mindset? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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David Cheatham is Owner and founder of
Transform Communications, LLC
He can be reached at

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2 responses to “Back Yesterday: Reclaiming Social Media

  1. David,
    I am a dinosaur who does not text and who thinks texting during a meeting is rude, but I am trying to learn how to use social media for marketing my new novel (The Other Sister, from Plain View Press), so I joined Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, they are not habitual yet, so I know I miss opportunities to tweet and to make timely announcements on Facebook. I do try to “bundle” my social media time instead of checking both sites during the day, because being online can eat up so much of those 24 hours.



  2. Good to hear from you Pat.

    Remember Dan Rather’s admonition and take courage. ;>)

    Texting during a meeting (or class, or networking coffee) is rude. Social media can begin and end relationships, but maintaining them takes other channels. The key is not to be lulled into the Siren song that these ‘transactions’ are a substitute for relational messages. The blue glow of a PDA can be carcinogenic — both physically and emotionally.


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