EE Times Group social media guru Karen Field writes today about why engineers don't like Twitter. The basic feeling is that they "don't care what someone had for breakfast," and think it's "a waste of time." While that might be valuable information to marketers (and I'm not saying it is) those are the same objections that people who do do not participate in social media have to all of social media.
There was a time where social media was nothing more than a diversion in a participant's day, but that has come to a close. More than 85 percent of the developed world is actively involved in social media as a communications tool and anyone, engineers included, think it to be a passing fad are in an increasingly isolated minority.
But let's talk about Twitter specifically. If all you see on Twitter are posts from people who talk about their breakfast choices, then you've connected to the wrong people. If you use it simply to pass the time, you haven't used your experimental time valuably. But if the people whose tweet you read provide you links to valuable information (mine do), and you receive direct messages from trusted colleagues from twitter through text on your cell, bypassing email mazes (and I do) and if you share valuable insight on what you have discovered (I try to) or update followers on important changes and issues in your life ( I do), then you have discovered something valuable that doesn't waste your time or anyone else's.
Social media does not replace face-to-face communication, it facilitates it. Twitter is not the be all and end all of social media, either, it is a tool for specific purposes. You don't take a nail and hit it with a wrench into a board and then complain that it's a waste of time. Twitter doesn't replace the technical paper, but it can help you find one you need that you didn't know existed.
Don't throw out a tool because you don't know how to use it. Leave it in the box until you have the time to learn.