The people I know are strangers
I was at a function about 6 months after I left my insanely hectic corporate job when a friend mentioned to me that this was the first time we had had a real conversation – not in real life, but beyond the polite niceties that we had grown accustomed to. It was also the first time that I had asked him about his family. We’ve known each other for 3 years since the launch of the first Twitter Blanket Drive.
What on earth had we been speaking about for 3 solid years on Twitter? Apparently nothing important at all as it turns out.
I am have a more-than-average fixation with social media. I scan my Twitter feed for news updates before I reach for a newspaper or turn on the news radio reports. I scroll through my friends FaceBook statuses to check that they’re all alive and well every morning before I brush my teeth – there is some solice in knowing that “nothing much has changed”. My LinkedIn news updates provide me with business updates around the globe and my AdAge feed keeps me well informed of advertising and media on all counts. This dumping of info happens within 15 minutes, before my first cup of coffee. Thereafter I take a leisurely scroll through my Google Plus feed which does actually present different stories from time to time. I take “time out” to check out The Fancy and Houzz but have learnt that Pinterest is to be avoided at all costs first thing in the morning if I’m trying to have a productive morning. So, it’s time to check emails. Every now and then, much less frequently than before, I get in depth personal emails which give a very detailed breakdown of some or other situation that has arisen. Most times this info is fed to me via bite-size chunks in WhatsApp messages.
A Skype call almost seems intrusive these days. So personal I think … Quite intrusive indeed.
So close yet so far
6 Degrees of separation is the concept that everyone is six steps away from any other person in the world (by way of introduction). This means that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made on average to connect any 2 people in just six steps. (Frigves Karinthy originally noted the idea and it was popularised by a play written by John Guare.)
I’ve just checked my online ‘friend’ count; it looks something like this: Twitter – 4,000 followers, FaceBook – 700 friends, LinkedIn – 1,200 connections, Google+ – 180 in my circles. Nothing to write home about or anything that is going to break world records. Based on 6 degrees I should be connected to a significant amount of people regardless.
My FaceBook friends in particular gave me a couple of sleepless nights (unbeknown to them) as I realised I didn’t know them at all. I keep my social media activity very seperate i.e. use the various platforms and networks for different purposes. In many instances I have very different people that I interact with on all my social media engagements. My FaceBook is private and personal. I can almost forgive myself for not knowing the intimate details of the aforementioned Twitter friend, but FaceBook people I really don’t have an excuse for.
Sure I know that a friend of a friend’s dog went missing last week, that the weather is either good or bad depending on where you are at any given moment, that the gym-bunnies proudly announce their exercise regime and which music concerts my friends are attending these days. But very seldom do I explore those necessary conversations where a Like on FaceBook just isn’t appropriate, like a death in the family or retrenchment.
I am embarassed
My friends deserve better from me. They deserve my attention and support. I have to change this and start doing things differently.