Warning – social media is bad for your health!

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News this morning that social networking sites could be harming people’s health has suddenly torn my loyalties. On the one hand, you’d be hard pushed to argue with Dr Aric Sigman’s claims that a lack of direct social interaction could have wide-ranging biological effects, including cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia. On the other hand, I’m an ardent champion of social media – chatting to freelancers on Skype, twittering with fellow web geeks and looking for new ways to push the envelope.

I realise that social interaction of the traditional variety is crucial not just in life (and clearly, according to Dr Sigman in preserving it), but for any business to realise its true potential. At Peppermint, when courting prospective clients we try to get a meeting in place where we can discuss creative ideas in person. PR thrives on personalities and getting in front of people adds a whole new dimension to the service that we offer. We believe that this interaction is the best way to kick things off, particularly when entering into a new business relationship.

Unfortunately, however hard I try, my allegiance to the social media cause just keeps on shining through – heart disease or no heart disease! There are so many alternatives to face-to-face meetings that it would be criminal not to dabble in them. You could hold online meetings using Skype or Webex or set up a conference call – you could even use Facebook chat or MSN Messenger.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to running a successful, forward-thinking business you have to combine both forms of social interaction. Admittedly, we don’t want our kids to become permanent couch potatoes, but shouldn’t we also open their minds up to the inspirational innovations of social media? It is the future, after all!