Connecting in a Smaller World

Connecting in a Smaller World: The Command Chiefs had mixed opinions on the evolution of social media and how their airmen use it, and said Sept. 17 at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that although there are very clear benefits to these tools, there are also potential pitfalls. AFSOC’s CMSgt. William Turner noted when he first went to Afghanistan in 2001, he and his fellow special operators had to write letters and put them in a mail bag, not knowing when or if they would get back home. “Today, someone can turn on Skype and can see their daughter blow out candles on her birthday cake,” he said, saying this is a wonderful thing that helps morale and families stay connected. At the same time, said CMSgt. Linus Jordan of Air Force Space Command, dependence on social media, particularly among younger airmen, can be challenging since studies have shown people can have difficulty picking up on non verbal means of communication. He believes it is up to senior NCOs to make sure they can still reach out to their airmen personally. CMSgt. Stephen Ludwig of the Air Force Academy agreed, saying, “When you sit down with an airman in a dining hall, I find they want to talk to you; they respond to you.” He said that senior enlisted members need to be able to connect, to look their airmen in the eye, and tell them the truth and added that airmen will respond and reciprocate when leaders do this.