Facebook Chronicles: Refusal of the Call

by Barb Cashman on May 7, 2012

Wondering why I’m still writing these? Well, have a look at the picture … we haven’t even reached the abyss yet!

I’m still writing these posts, so I haven’t refused the call yet … wait – What is that ringing in my ears?

Back to the narrative for this hero’s journey: Net Smart.  Author Howard Rheingold has been writing about virtual communities since 1987, and cites another commentator, Manuel  Castells, who explains “networks matter now because new technical networks dramatically multiply the power of age-old human cultural tools of sociality, politics, and economics.”

Makes me want to shout “Cavemen – turn in your clubs for something a bit more sophisticated!” (There I’ve said it – but I’m not singling out men, or the guy in the TV ads.)  He goes on to point out that network knowledge derives from a variety of disciplines not previously connected – namely digital networks and human social behavior.

So, here we are at chapter one. The adventure begins with “Attention!”  He rightfully points out that a little mindfulness goes a long way.  (I did a five day silent mediation retreat last month, so I can say that a lot of mindfulness goes a long way, too.)  He looks at so many of us who envision ourselves as “super taskers.”   Scientific American Mind had an article about these folks in February, and they have an interactive test you can take online. If you are not a super tasker, fear not – there is still hope for you.  Rheingold recommends “beginning in small ways to exercise mindfulness regarding your attention online.”  He points out that “the executive control we all exercise when we maintain focus on one task becomes useful when we move from understanding attention to controlling it.”

So here’s the condensed Nutshell (remember those from law school?) version of chapter 1:

  • Social media afford distraction, but we can train our attention;
  • Our hormones reward us for information seeking and social contact but also trigger fight/flight response, so we need to exercise some mindfulness regarding the attention and reactions to social media;
  • Don’t forget to breathe, and ask yourself, “Where is my attention now?” These are simple but powerful steps to switch on control;
  • Learning starts with paying attention to others; this means paying attention with eye contact (not staring at a smartphone screen when you ask about someone’s day);
  • Multitasking has a cost in effectiveness of attention – be aware that task switching can decrease effectiveness;
  • Focus is about trimming down, blocking extraneous matters, and saying “no” in a way that “yes” (what you are paying attention to) is effective;
  • Mindfulness and metacognition (thinking about thinking) are tools for becoming aware of how you are using your attention, and are useful both online and in the other world; and
  • To start new habits, (like mindfulness or paying attention to when your mind starts to wander) start small by finding a place in your routine to establish the new behavior and then repeat it until the “paying attention” has become habitual.

Okay, so back to my “story,” or should I say “saga.”

After talking with a colleague who told me about this intriguing website, I signed up for a “fiver gig” entitled “create my Facebook business page”( for $5)  Sound too good to be true?   It was!  But hey, it’s all part of this adventure, right?  I got an email from the guy who was supposed to design my page on late Friday afternoon, and since I was driving my youngest son to a friend’s house and then heading to the Heartlight Center’s fundraiser, I didn’t respond in time to get my order filled.

I pondered whether I might in fact grow tired of making jokes at my own expense in front of an anonymous online audience (only momentarily though).  So we could say my refusal of the call is from insecurity, but that I have this sense of obligation (usually a basis for refusal) that pulls me in the other direction – 0r perhaps I’m enabling my inner perfectionist. Remember, I’m still just trying to get this whole Facebook business page thing off the ground!  But bravery is about overcoming fear, not ignoring it.

I did find this article when I narrowed my search to “attorney facebook timeline” so I would only get the current stuff.  I even looked at a Texas attorney’s page and thought it looked pretty good; how hard can this be?

A recent JDSupra offering “Why Your Social Media Presence Needs to be Vetted by a Social Media Attorney” was thankfully  NOT about us solo/small firm types  venturing into social media but rather focused on firms who got smacked for retaliatory measures taken against employees who vent online.

You might be asking yourself, what is the nature of the call you are refusing to hear?  Avvo’s national conference, Avvocating 2012, had a panel of presenters on social media. Their slide show “Integrating Social Media Into Your Marketing Strategy is the best thing I’ve seen so far.

Some very interesting facts from the slides: 1.47 million lawyers on LinkedIn worldwide, but “only” 80,000 law firms on Facebook. And, two-thirds of American lawyers cite Facebook as a primary source of evidence in divorce cases, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

I liked their five stages of social media: ignoring, listening, responding, participating, and interacting.  Is it the interacting with clients that is so scary in the social media context?  What if we just acknowledge them? Is that okay for your comfort level?

Please share; I’d like to know. I have managed to put a cover photo on my Facebook business page (an African violet in my windowsill), and I’m sure I’ll be making more progress. Stay tuned for the next installment: Meeting the Mentor (a.k.a. Supernatural Aid).

Read more about Barb’s Facebook Chronicles here.


{ 1 comment }

Lizzy May 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I am relieved to be reminded that mindfulness applies to everything. There is hope for me then in effective time management. I’m spending too much time trying to remember why I went to a search engine in the first place after having a random thought while reading an email I was alerted to automatically from someone whose email I’d forgotten yesterday and lost because my computer froze and it had to be restarted. I am a task switcher and it’s getting worse which means I’m being less effective. THAT’s my fear. That and someone finding me out. And I still use just one screen! I have a second one on my desk ready to plug in but I’m waiting for the right plugin thingy from my IT goddess Diana (a real woman who uses her powers for good). I am a little fearful of that too, but I have noted that colleagues who are considered effective have two screens. I know these tips will help me. I just need to get them in front of me tomorrow morning when I turn on the computer. I’ll email them to myself. ~ lizzy

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