Yesterday while out for a walk I had a flashback: It was the early seventies and I was in college. I was hanging out in a popular drinking establishment across the street from the university. Across from me sat one of my few non-geek friends. As might be expected from a couple of testosterone-poisoned young males, the conversation eventually turned to the subject of sex. I still remember my friend sitting there - beer in hand - saying, “Hey man, sex is a great way to meet interesting people!”.
And because social media is also a great way to meet interesting people, at that moment it occurred to me that in some ways, social media is the new sex. By that, I mean that some of the same behaviors are present:
You know the type: each encounter is just another notch on his belt. The only thing that is important is the number of women he’s had. Just keeping score. (I’ve met a few females with the same attitude.)
They’re in social media too. These are the ones who smugly talk about the number of LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers they have. Just keeping score. Life is a game to see how many followers they can add each day. These are the ones who collect everybody’s business card at networking events and then promptly go home and enter them into LinkedIn. These are the ones who will follow anyone on Twitter who can fog a mirror with the hope that some of them will follow back.
Ms Casual Sex
These are the ones who use sex to fill an empty space in their lives. It feels good. And for as long as it lasts they experience a taste of the intimacy and connectedness that is at the very core of a real relationship.
Yes, they’re in social media too. They are the ones who’ll do anything for an @reply. Give them an @reply or two and they don’t need meaningful conversation. In fact, try to engage in an actual deep conversation with one of these and they start backing away fast.
At a recent Social Media Club meeting, my friend Brian Shaler made the comment that his main use of social media is to find and build great offline relationships. And that’s the crux of it.
It’s all about relationships.
Yes: use social media to build awareness of your brand. Yes: use social media to grow your business. But don’t stop there. Forge meaningful relationships. Use social media to nurture and maintain the meaningful relationships you already have. That’s when it starts to get rewarding.
Years ago I heard someone predict that the Internet would cause us to become much more impersonal and isolated. The opposite is true. Social media allows us to become more closely connected to our friends - if we work at it. And it makes it easy to make new friends without waking up in the morning needing a penicillin shot.
Hmmmmmm. Maybe there’s another blog post: What part of social media is like a social disease?