I moved to a smallish town (60,000) from a big city (3 million) nearly 5 years ago. I used to work in an office with 50 people. Now, when I’m not traveling to conferences or to see clients, I work from home. Usually half-dressed. Staring out at a forest.
Other than our cat that I dislike with the intensity of a start-up punk band, I can go 2-3 days without seeing a single person that is not my spouse or children. By all historically utilized measures, I live a life of isolation.
But yet, I’m more connected, am doing more business, and have more relationships than at any prior time in my life. I interacted with 43 different people on Twitter today. 14 on Facebook. 11 on Linkedin. Probably 50 or so on email. Just 2 on the phone. 1 in-person (got my hair cut).
My friends are no longer dictated by geography and circumstance. I meet amazing people daily that truly impact my life.
Technology Made This Problem. Let Technology Solve It
And isn’t that why social media is so powerful? It closes the gaps that have kept us apart. From family. From people of like mind and common interests. From brands we support. From politicians, and athletes, and celebrities, and media and others just like us that we put on our collective pillar. But social media knocks that pillar out like a bicycle kick stand. Social media is the great equalizer. The bridge across the chasm.
Without question, the best part about conferences in this strange, micro-blogging moment in time is meeting people in-person that you “know” from social media. Because after all, nothing replaces direct human contact, and no amount of free digital beers on Facebook can serve as an appropriate stand-in for a pint of the real thing (Stone IPA or Racer 5 or Dogfish Head 60 for me, please). But, what’s so amazing is that if not for social media, you probably wouldn’t have interacted with those folks at all, and you certainly wouldn’t have looked forward to it and considered it a conference highlight.
Everything about the modern world conspires to pull us apart: The need to be more and more productive at work. Seemingly endless kid activities. Global competition. Expensive and hassle-filled travel. Technology tethers.
But social media swims against that tide like a salmon with a laptop and an iphone. Is it easy? Hell no. Keeping up with all of these new digitally-enabled relationships takes real time. But, if we’re not going to church and Rotary Club, and the PTA and picnics and all the stuff we used to do as a society, I’m going to use that time to find and “meet” a ton of incredibly interesting people that I never, ever would have found otherwise.
Is it worth it to you?
(photo by Anirudh Koul)