Ways To Waste Time Essay Archives

You know the drill, the minute something becomes popular, some report comes out making claims about how much money is being pulled out of the economy because we're wasting our time on it.

Social media is no different. In fact, it's not even social media as entirety. We've seen instances where Facebook has been accused of wasting millions of dollars on being a time suck. The same has happened with YouTube and Twitter (more on that here: Gigaom - News Flash: Your Employees are Wasting Time on the Internet). We're always quick to blame the technology and not the people. I always argue that those who are not wasting their time on YouTube (because a company has blocked it) have probably figured out something else to do to waste their time (hint: they're not happy and energized to be doing their jobs ... it's not YouTube).

Social media is a big-time time sucker.

That was the news last week in the AdWeek news item, Social Networking: A Waste of Time? (Oct. 7, 2010). "Here's a sign of social networking's growing presence in modern life: It has surpassed TV viewing as the preeminent waster of people's time," stated the news item. "At any rate, it tops the waste-of-time standings in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released this week. Respondents were given a list of six activities and asked to pick the one they regard as 'your biggest waste of time.' A plurality (36 per cent) chose 'social networking,' putting it easily ahead of runner-up 'fantasy sports' (25 per cent) and third-place 'watching television' (23 per cent). Few votes went to 'shopping' (nine per cent), 'reading' (two per cent) or 'your job' (two per cent)."

Social media is only a waste of time if you're using it to waste your time.

It's not because it's a slight against online social networks that I'm upset (or because I base part of my business livelihood on the success of social media as a marketing channel), but we have to meet the people who lump "reading" and their "jobs" as their "biggest waste of time." Wasting your time should probably be defined as an activity that requires nothing proactive, while utilizing minimal effort and with even less of a valued outcome in terms of overall life benefit. But, if you look at social media like that, you're missing the point entirely.

Social media is the fabric that binds our culture together.

Maybe not our current, entire culture but the shift is happening in a very non-subtle way. Contrast the news above with this blog post last week from MediaPost's Engage - GenY titled, Social Network Disconnect, which looks at GenY (those born between 1982 and 2004). Prior to looking at the stats presented below, you should know that Gen Y is (according to the Blog post), "the first generation in U.S. history to exceed 100,000,000 members is typified as multi-cultural, multi-racial, multilingual, multimedia and multi-tasking. Most importantly, Gen Y is the first generation in human history to, as children, be more technologically advanced than their parents."

Are you ready to have your mind blown?...

"Their use of technology is pervasive and sophisticated. You can pretty much count on the totality of Gen Y to be online and connected. Research conducted by the Insights division of Ypulse in September 2010 94 percent of GenY to be on Facebook, spending 11.4 hours a week within its pearly blue gates. This connectivity is nearly ubiquitous, with more than three quarters (78 per cent) of high school and college students connecting to their preferred social network via their mobile phone. Mobile devices and the Facebook platform are the glue that keeps this generation connected. When Gen Y communicates with each other, their preferred tool is a text message (55 per cent state texting as the primary means of communicating with their friends), followed by Facebook (24 per cent). Voice-based communications (land line, VOIP and mobile voice calls) among Gen Y represents only 10 per cent of communications, IM is the primary communications tool for seven per cent and email is dominant among a meager one per cent of Gen Y when communicating peer to peer."

It's not just because it's cool to be on Facebook.

Regardless of what the platform is, there's something bigger brewing beneath the surface here. The massive speed of change and adoption of new media among this huge generation is changing our society (they're not just idly sitting by watching TV, flipping through magazines or playing video games). From whom they trust and rely on to how they perceive privacy and relationships. These youngish people are doing things in a more open and sharing environment (and, yes some of it is not in a positive way - look no further than the tragedy that took place at Rutgers University a few weeks back when a young person committed suicide after a video was posted on YouTube without their consent), and this is having current implications on how society evolves... and we haven't even begun to look at the long-term society impact of this change in terms of business, education, privacy, communications and connectivity. What we do know is that you can hardly dismiss this massive shift as a waste of time (unless all you're doing is watching YouTube videos of people falling off of treadmills - which, admittedly, never gets tiring).

Is this causing such a huge societal change that we can't even begin to imagine the implications, so we have decide to ignore it or pass it off as a time waster, or is the reality something much bigger that we - as the business leaders of today - must begin to grasp and embrace?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

By Mitch Joel

Refuse to be Terrorized

On Aug. 16, two men were escorted off a plane headed for Manchester, England, because some passengers thought they looked either Asian or Middle Eastern, might have been talking Arabic, wore leather jackets, and looked at their watches -- and the passengers refused to fly with them on board.

The menwere questioned for several hours and then released.

On Aug. 15, an entire airport terminal was evacuated because someone's cosmetics triggered a false positive for explosives. The same day, a Muslim man was removed from an airplane in Denver for reciting prayers. The Transportation Security Administration decided that the flight crew overreacted, but he still had to spend the night in Denver before flying home the next day.

The next day, a Port of Seattle terminal was evacuated because a couple of dogs gave a false alarm for explosives.

On Aug. 19, a plane made an emergency landing in Tampa, Florida, after the crew became suspicious because two of the lavatory doors were locked. The plane was searched, but nothing was found. Meanwhile, a man who tampered with a bathroom smoke detector on a flight to San Antonio was cleared of terrorism, but only after having his house searched.

On Aug. 16, a woman suffered a panic attack and became violent on a flight from London to Washington, so the plane was escorted to the Boston airport by fighter jets. "The woman was carrying hand cream and matches but was not a terrorist threat," said the TSA spokesman after the incident.

And on Aug. 18, a plane flying from London to Egypt made an emergency landing in Italy when someone found a bomb threat scrawled on an air sickness bag. Nothing was found on the plane, and no one knows how long the note was on board.

I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics.

The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.

We're all a little jumpy after the recent arrest of 23 terror suspects in Great Britain. The men were reportedly plotting a liquid-explosive attack on airplanes, and both the press and politicians have been trumpeting the story ever since.

In truth, it's doubtful that their plan would have succeeded; chemistshavebeendebunking the idea since it became public. Certainly the suspects were a long way off from trying: None had bought airline tickets, and some didn't even have passports.

Regardless of the threat, from the would-be bombers' perspective, the explosives and planes were merely tactics. Their goal was to cause terror, and in that they've succeeded.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if they had blown up 10 planes. There would be canceled flights, chaos at airports, bans on carry-on luggage, world leaders talking tough new security measures, political posturing and all sorts of false alarms as jittery people panicked. To a lesser degree, that's basically what's happening right now.

Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a campaign tactic. The press helps every time it writes scare stories about the plot and the threat. And if we're terrified, and we share that fear, we help. All of these actions intensify and repeat the terrorists' actions, and increase the effects of their terror.

(I am not saying that the politicians and press are terrorists, or that they share any of the blame for terrorist attacks. I'm not that stupid. But the subject of terrorism is more complex than it appears, and understanding its various causes and effects are vital for understanding how to best deal with it.)

The implausible plots and false alarms actually hurt us in two ways. Not only do they increase the level of fear, but they also waste time and resources that could be better spent fighting the real threats and increasing actual security. I'll bet the terrorists are laughing at us.

Another thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that the British government arrested the 23 suspects without fanfare. Imagine that the TSA and its European counterparts didn't engage in pointless airline-security measures like banning liquids. And imagine that the press didn't write about it endlessly, and that the politicians didn't use the event to remind us all how scared we should be. If we'd reacted that way, then the terrorists would have truly failed.

It's time we calm down and fight terror with antiterror. This does not mean that we simply roll over and accept terrorism. There are things our government can and should do to fight terrorism, most of them involving intelligence and investigation -- and not focusing on specific plots.

But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.

Categories: Featured, Terrorism

Tags: Wired

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