There has been a little buzz in the social media community lately on how intimate our online relationships really are. I have seen several posts denying that we can have true friends on the internet. That the relationships we have are shallow at best and really just a fallacy, a fantasy, that we have created. That it is impossible to make real friends online.
Debating over real online friendship vs. fake negates the popular SM idea that says “you get out what you put into it.”
Some of these are the same people who will ask you to pay a lot of money to develop a SM marketing plan for your business, company, organization. Does the lack of real online relationships mean that your virtual customer base is less meaningful to you than those who walk into your store.
Some of these are the same people who convey the advantages of building your brand to make you identifiable to customers in a way that they know what you are all about and continue to come back to you. Does the idea that we can’t form true connections online make delivering your brand message to your fan base a waste of time?
Some of these are the same people who write and encourage us to engage and reciprocate online with others for the purpose of creating a lasting connection of people who want to hear what we have to say and will share what we have to say with others. Does that mean the connection is worthless without the ability to build real mutual respect and admiration for one another through physical world experiences?
Webster’s online Dictionary defines a friend as “1. One who entertains for another such sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection that he seeks his society and welfare; a well-wisher, an intimate associate..” as well as “3. One who looks propitiously(kindly, favorably) on a cause, an institution, a project, and the like; a favorer, a promoter..”
I think the debate regarding our online connections as a real friend is a moot discussion. We surely define our own relationships. If two people show “sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection” toward one another on Twitter(FB, etc) that brings them to feel an emotional connection that they define as a friendly relationship, then it is.
The idea that we have to share physical space to develop a relationship seems archaic. Since the advent of technologies such as the telephone, radio, cell phones, skype, and the like, we have been able to build and strengthen ties with family and friends who live across states or countries. We are a mental based form of beings. Our ability to think, process, plan, imagine, and create also allows us to form very real feelings toward others who may not share in our day-to-day dealings. Just ask friends separated by distance. As long as some form of communication exists between them, friendships are carried through out lifetime.
In our physical world, we each define what a friend means to us. Friendship to me is a little like love. Love is a feeling, an emotion, a connectioncreated between the two people involved based on their own experiential criteria. Friendship has the same quality. I think we are advancing as humans in our ability to foster relationships through intelligent discussion and emotional thought rather than based purely on our tangible needs being met. Even if we can’t share the same physical space, we look forward to hearing from a person, communicating with them, connecting with them in real time on a platform such as Twitter. We look forward to “seeing” them and can even get excited that they appear in our timeline or feed at a time when we are present there. And I have heard many examples of people asking for assistance via social media and the friends they have never met F2F come to their aid. If there are no friends here, why are there #tweetups?
There are obviously people who lie, deceive, and betray others online. But, they exist next door and in our towns, too.There are times to be cautious for certain. But, the opportunity to meet others who are worthy is so exponential via SM that creating an online friendship seems the natural course when we use online sharing communities.
Honestly. The naysayers must never have had a pen pal as a child.
A social media-made friend is defined by the increased level of interaction and engagement that brings about an emotional connection and continued reciprocal sharing between two people using online means. That’s my definition.
Simply Put- The Twefinition of a friend is exactly who you decide it should be, by whatever standards you set.
Oh, for the love of human nature. And Twitter.
Last week I saw a random tweet by Chris Brogan. (If you don’t know who he is, he’s way up there in the crew of social media savvy people. He knows his stuff.) He informed “everyone” on Twitter that he would be UN-following everyone on Twitter and then systematically RE-following them because of an awful spam problem occurring in his Direct Messages. Over 130,000 people follow his tweets.
My first thought was, “Wow, I seriously would not want to be Chris Brogan this week.” Seemed like quite a task and not a favorable one at that. I also saw coming what actually happened to him before it did.
In his blog last week, Mr. Brogan shares the tale of the aftermath of the Unfollowing. Apparently it wasn’t pretty and impassioned emails and poor taste tweets ensued. He seems surprised that even though he “posted SEVERAL times a message to my stream that stated what I was doing, why I was doing it, and that I’d slowly follow people back.”, people got their panties in a bunch over it.
His blog does accurately point our several things we should be aware of and I do highly recommend reading the blog(and not just that particular post) if you participate in the online world of sharing.
A few things surprised me though. The biggest is that someone as incredibly knowledgeable in utilizing and teaching others about social media platforms would think that “several” tweets would be enough to let EVERYONE know that he was basically de-activating his account for a few days. Divide 131,000 by let’s say, 7 (several). Okay- 10, just so we don’t have to think too hard. That’s 13,100 people who would have to be logged in to Twitter at the exact right time and reading a stream that flows by incredibly fast at just the right moment to see just one of the broadcasting tweets. (cont.below pic)
I advise people asking about social media that you have to find a balance between being annoying and finding success when sharing something you want your fellow twitterers to see. This means you have to post often enough to know your different crowds and what times they appear. Posting at different times allows you to hit the “early before work/day/evening/night owl/weekend junkie/once daily just to catch up” users when you have something important to share. You also have to be humble enough to realize people aren’t always hanging on your every word. Perhaps it would have been better in Mr. Brogan’s case to set up one of those dreaded blanket DM features and just directly let followers know what was coming. (not criticizing- I sincerely hope none of us ever have to deal with this issue)
What I take from what became a little experiment in human nature for Mr. Brogan is the part I want to share with you. Twitter (Facebook, etc.) are tools that help us connect in the digital world. It has opened doors for communicating across the board with people you know, wish you knew, wish you didn’t know, would never have met, and are glad you’ve met. I agree and attest to others, as Mr. Brogan does, that there are no hard and fast rules to social media. One thing is absolutely clear, though. We need to remember that there is a real person on the other end when we communicate online. The only difference between the etiquette of real world interactions and that of online interaction is that there is a medium (whatever device you access the internet with) between you and the other people you share yourself with. People do make an emotional connection with their social media contacts; they do become invested in the online relationships they cultivate.
With that in mind, just remember that the Golden Rule of life applies in the social media world too. When you initiate, engage, respond, share, and inform during your online interactions: please do unto others as you would like them to do to and for you.
Simply Put- The path to successful social media experiences lies not in who you know, but in how well you get to know them and how we treat each other while we do.
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