Myelin and Social Media: Involvement and Analogy

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According to Wikipedia, myelin is a dielectric (electrically insulating) material that forms a layer, the myelin sheath, usually around only the axon of a neuron. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.” Myelin is crucial for nerve connection and communication within the nervous system. It ensures optimum conduction of signals along the nerve path.

It takes practice.

Myelin breaks down and rebuilds like most things in our body. To ensure new and improved myelin is made, we must put in casual (occasionally) and a lot of structured practice to help its production. Like many things in life, you must use it or lose it. Research has shown that it takes at least 10,000 hours of quality practice to enter the realm of skill mastery. It’s best to put these connections to work so they proliferate during our peaks for specific activities. For example, it’s best to begin learning new languages by or before early adolescence and to live amongst people who speak the language for at least several months while learning it.

The Internet has its own dialect and rules for etiquette. If you’re a developer, you have to learn coding languages to build websites, apps and tools. These skills are no different from language skills mentioned in the previous paragraph. Myelin plays a role in our learning of how to navigate the Internet and various social network platforms. Don’t expect to be able to jump right in.

I’ve been communicating online since the old BBS (bulletin board system) noisy modem days. My buddy Steve Leija and I would jump on our computers and make them talk to each other. I was amazed that we could communicate through our PCs. I’m only 33 years old, but I’ve been at this for a long while. Remember receiving random AOL installation disks in the mail? I do. Remember Prodigy? I’ve met several REAL friends in AOL chat rooms. Meeting friends from AOL offline was a big deal back then. Of course meeting people offline is a common thing these days but the point is that this all takes practice. There are serious things at stake — your life/health, career/business, and relationships.

Outside of needing the skills necessary for effective online communication, mature must be made while engaging online. Information moves quickly and it could be difficult to reverse a virtual misstep. This is why we often see teenagers make poor decisions online like putting racy videos on YouTube or saying nasty things on Twitter or Facebook. No amount of myelin can combat adolescent-like immaturity.

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Chunks and connections

A lot has been written about the process of “chunking.” Chunking is separating the learning of new skills in easy to digest blocks. This relates to our learning and use of social media. I find that many people try to take on too many platforms at one time. Work on your Twitter game before heading over to Google+. They are two different cultures. You wouldn’t go to Turkey to learn everything about their culture in a day before flying to Ghana to try to do the same thing there right? Take your time. Just because Pinterest is on the scene doesn’t mean you need to hop over there right now and get busy (though it’s pretty easy). Take it one step at a time.

Myelin helps make fast and smooth connections. You should too. Networking, like everything, takes practice. Here’s the good news… if you’re using social media properly, you’re actively chiseling away at your 10,000 hour milestone. Don’t cheat yourself though. Keep your Twitter timeline pure with a good amount of human to human engagement. Don’t spam. Don’t become a re-tweet machine (that’s very lazy). And don’t let a RSS feed takeover your timeline. It’s okay to mix all these functions with your real and active conversation.

If you want to become a better online communicator, it takes serious practice. If you’re a beginner, read books like Mark Schaefer’s The Tao of Twitter (I hear he’s working on Part 2). If you’re wanting something more advanced for business, read Amber Naslund and Jay Baer’s The Now Revolution. Reading and becoming an all out “infovore” is a part of practice as well. Don’t “do social,” be social. Myelin is your friend. Use it or lose it.

About the Author

Chris Craft is a Christian, husband, father, and the author of The Foundation: Branding for Successful Real Estate Professionals and O.P.E.N. Routine: Four Components to Personal Branding Excellence. As the founder of content creation agency Nao Media, Chris helps churches and businesses produce written content and have better conversations with their members and stakeholders. Chris is also the host of The Chris Craft Show, which helps its listeners renew their mind with edifying stories and insights.