The Evolution of Job Skills and Electronic Media

When I was a kid, I loved playing video games (ah, Atari 2600, I knew ye all too well). My parents were absolutely convinced this would do precisely nothing to help me land a job, and they were for the most part right. (There you go Mom, I said it. You can mark the date in your calendar. It’ll be another 30 years before it happens again.)

But (you knew there had to be a “but”) the time I spent wasn’t completely wasted. While I may not have become a professional video game player or even a game designer, I did pick up some skills that translated into the modern work environment. No, I’m not speaking of my twitch-response that more closely resembles ADD than reflexes, nor am I talking about my astounding hand-eye coordination. I am talking about my ability to interact fluidly with a GUI, as well as my ability to quickly pick up new technologies such as HTML.

So why do I bring this up so many years after the fact (other than to play a rousing game of “No really, I was right”)? As I look around at what the kids are doing these days (and I have to admit I get a small thrill out of not falling in that category anymore, since I have long equated “kid” with “dumbass”), I see a lot of hyperventilating about social media. Do a quick search on Google about “dangers of social media for college students” and you’ll see all sorts of stuff ranging from common sense advice (some of which I’ve even discussed before myself) to what can only amount to pearl-clutching inanity (like this article which discusses a woman who walked off a pier into Lake Michigan while texting, and another who walked into a fountain.) Seriously, if you’re going to blame texting for people who can’t NOT WALK OFF A PIER, you and I don’t live in the same world. (When I was a kid, Mom would tell my sister and me to take a long walk off a short pier. Even then we knew she was kidding. At least we hoped she was.)

Meanwhile, back here in reality, there are people who get paid to handle all of a company’s social media, covering Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. They tend to be very smart, very creative, and very good at their jobs. They have to be, because everybody wants to do that gig, and only the ones who are good at it survive. And the best way to be good at it is to understand it like you were born to it. That means using it every day, understanding what the trends are, where they’re going, not just what’s hot this week but what’s going to be hot next week and beyond.

The people who are going to have those jobs aren’t the ones who are being told they need to be afraid of social media (or if they are, it’s because they ignore the voices that warn them to be afraid). Cautious? Perhaps, but balanced with a greater amount of daring and willingness to take calculated risks. Holding back, or worse being held back, will damage them far more than any foolish things they may do as they explore all the possibilities inherent in these new technologies.


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