We just don’t care


Normally, I agree with Steve Boese and his pontifications on his blog.  However, yesterday I think the kool-aid was bad.  In his posting, Comfortable Being Scarred, he suggests that one of the reasons that Social Media hasn’t been integrated in the work place is because HR professionals are comfortable being scared.  I just don’t think they see the value.

He ended asking 4 questions.

  • Pointing out that we as a society focus on the negative aspects of things giving the example of the World Cup and the officiating, annoying vuvuzelas and poor team dynamics.  He queries why don’t we focus on the positive?
  • Why are we so drawn to the negative?
  • Why do we try to avoid, mitigate, reduce, manage and every possible other thing except embrace risk?
  • Why are so many of us ‘comfortable being scared?’

Let’s deal with these.  First we shouldn’t be surprised about the focus on the negative aspects of the World Cup.  Starting at an early age, many kids learn to focus on the negative of others to avoid dealing with their own problems.  When dealing with play ground bullies, how many times did you hear something along the lines of just ignore them, they are just teasing you because they are jealous.

We learn through this that using other peoples problems is a good distraction from our own.  One of the comments on Steve’s blog points out that people aren’t responsible.  The commenter was right, we live in a society in which many want to abort the consequences of their actions instead of rearing them into a positive thing.  That would be hard work and people are lazy.  It’s easier to sit around and watch Jerry Springer.

Why are people lazy?  I’ll argue it’s largely apathy due to the seeking of a utilitarian happiness based on an individualistic understanding of freedom without responsibility.  In short, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it is  indifference and people aren’t vested in things, so why should they be anything by indifferent.  Natural law disagrees with this. We should be engaged in the world but society tells us not to be, so people run from the truth. They seek to point out the negative in others instead of stepping up and dealing with what really matters in their own lives.  That is why we are drawn to the negative, because we don’t vest ourselves in the positive.  This goes much deeper, and if you are interested, I’d point you to John Paul II’s book Love and Responsibility or Gratissimam Sane.

It’s interesting though, because we want to avoid that negative in our own life.  This is why we work to “avoid, mitigate, reduce, manage and every possible other thing”. Embracing risk would be counter to this, we are risk averse which is just a fancy way to say that we are scared and we aren’t comfortable being scared.

As Beth Carvin, CEO of Nobscot points out, we have business roles dedicated to addressing our fears – HR in particular is there to protect us from risk and our fear of being drawn into court.  If we are passionate about something, if we care enough, we can see past the risk to the opportunity and not just avoid the risk, but embrace it.

Last April, a homeless man came to the aid of a Queen’s woman who was being mugged.  He was stabbed several times and lay dieing in a pool of his own blood while 25 people walked by, one even rolling him over and then back.  They didn’t want to get involved.  They weren’t scared, the were indifferent and they figured someone else would take care of it.  He died because nobody cared.

When someone cares enough, Social Media will be embraced, which is why you are seeing it recruiting and in a few other isolated pockets.  For the rest of it, the value remains to be seen.  So, for now, I’m sticking with my original premise, companies aren’t scared of social media, they just don’t care.

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