Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Take Some Social Media for Stress and Call Me In The Morning

Take Some Social Media for Stress and Call Me In The Morning

By Dennis D. McDonald

StumbleUpon recently hit two of my posts from February 2008.  This propelled them to the top of my weekly top ten list:

  1. Using Internal Social Media to Address Corporate M&A-Related Stress
  2. Incorporating Social Networking Systems with Mergers & Acquisition Planning

Why the sudden attention? Having seen several companies struggle through post-merger pains, I can think of one possible reason. My posts suggested that tools such as online social networks are natural conduits for people to communicate about and help others cope with stresses involved in a post merger corporate situation where, likely as not, jobs are being eliminated. If the company doing the firing is also involved with online social networking, such participation, if managed correctly, might also be a way to monitor the situation and help conrol the spread of inaccurate information and dangerous rumors.

Whether or not the use of such networks can actually reduce stress, though, is a good question. In the current deteriorating economic situation, just passing around “facts” — forget the rumors — is enough by itself to cause stress. Reality is a central issue now. Social neworking might be useful for commiserating with others and finding a job, but by itself it won’t be able to reverse the downward spiral of the Dow.

Or can it? Watching evening TV news lately I’ve been struck — again — by how “old hat” the actual broadcast news is. Since I check into various news sources on the web throughout the day, the evening news is already old and usually serves as a “re-hash” for the day’s events. Instead, it may actually be amplifying negative reactions just by the nature of headline writing and commercial competitiveness. “If it bleeds it leads” may still be true with the mainstream media. These days the red is ink, not blood.

Perhaps some believe they can “use” social media to control (or at least shape) public perceptions and sentiment given the constant stream of negativity. For example, why not coordinate the distribution of positively-spun outbound and interactive communications and messaging with the broadcasting of evening news in order to “blunt” the outwardly-radiating waves of negativity that doom-and gloom reports are spreading?

Alernately, might some be inclined to use social media and other messaging tools to piggyback on all the broadcast pessimism and angst to promote an alternative approach to government that is, say, more authoritarian, protectionist, or inclined to fear-mongering? It’s happened before and could happen again.

I certainly don’t think the current Administration will try to use media either way, based on what I’ve seen so far. Plus, there’s a limit to the number of online videos President Obama can produce that can be distributed directly to the public; I would characterize his mediated social pronouncements so far as somberly constructive and realistic and neither pollyana-ish nor imperialistic.

But that’s just my opinion. What counts here is the “wisdom of the crowds” as fed, stirred, and cooked by increasingly decentralized and locally controlled media. This decentralization is going to make it very difficult for a single player to attampt control over all the messaging by mainstream and new media that accompanies our current economic troubles. And that’s a good thing.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald

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