This post has been sitting in my dashboard for quite a while.
Before I started writing it, though, it was just a lonely title, somewhat like a bemused shepherd who’s waylaid his sheep, and is wistfully whistling for them to gather (hey, nothing wrong with a shepherd whistling, is there?).
You see, I just couldn’t find the right hook for it.
Then yesterday, Lori Gosselin published a fabulous guest post by Bill Dorman, asking, “How does your friendship grow?” It’s an excellent post, as Bill’s writing usually is. Bill posits that when it comes to growing our friend circle, we’re either hunters or farmers (or maybe a bit of both), and writes:
“There is a difference between the two. Are you out there bouncing around hoping to ”˜bag’ as many friends as you can? More is better, right? I’m sure you can never have too many. Do you prefer superficial so you don’t have to expend a lot of energy?
“Or, do you value your relationships and take time to nurture them? Can your view of relationships be described like farming where it is rooted in a rich soil consisting of a blend of mutual trust, respect and shared values?
“Acquaintances are a dime a dozen, but a true friend is priceless.”
I replied saying that I believe I’m a farmer. I don’t go around “collecting” friends; people are way too important to be treated like stamps. I have a ton of acquaintances, many many people I’m friendly with, but relatively few people who are “real” friends.
I have one best friend.
Seriously – just one. She’s been my best friend since we were in high school, and that’s a long time ago. She knows my ins and outs, my ups and downs better than anyone else, and almost as well as my husband does.
Today is her birthday. I don’t know if I’ll get to talk to her today (she currently lives in the UK), and even though we haven’t spoken in a few months, when we do, there are no barriers between us and no awkward silences (in fact, the silences are rather lovely).
There have been times when she’s pinged me on Skype and I haven’t been able to talk, and vice versa. There have been times I’ve been going through so much, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, not even her. When I would finally come out of that kind of situation, then I would.
She never held it against me, and I feel the same about her. If the roles were reversed, think I’d write her off? Never.
Social media and friendship
The beauty of social media is that we come into quick contact with so many people who seem appealing, attractive (not just physically), and congenial. I’ve made some terrific friends thanks to SM, people who have my back, including so many of you who take the time to comment on WUL, talk to me on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I try, whenever I can, to uncover the remarkable in my networks, and I suspect you do too. Because that helps me get to know you better.
Many of these online friendships have developed into real life ones, and they enrich my life enormously.
But here’s the thing. It takes time. And I wonder sometimes if one of the worst illusions social weaves is that hey, presto, I know who you are, you know who I am, and bingo, we’re friends.
It would be easy for me to assume you want to know the deep, dark secrets of my life simply because you and I @ message each other frequently (and yes, I believe we all have them). But I think that would be presumptuous.
You have a life beyond social media; so do I. And while the two are increasingly intertwined, it’s one thing for me to meet you at the social media “cocktail party;” it would be quite another if I were to invite myself over to your family Thanksgiving dinner with no warning, wouldn’t it?
That’s why for me, the farmer approach is the way to go.
Whether you’re using social media for personal reasons or business, there’s nothing like carefully nurturing relationships, especially those that start with an @. The @ is the opening door; when we get invited to walk through it, that’s when we know we’re friends.
That’s what I think; what do you think? I ask because I believe you and I are progressing along the friendship path, some perhaps more quickly than others, and maybe some of us won’t make it through that door. Regardless, I value all of your opinions. Truly.
[…] why it took so long, I do know that all of you, my guest posters, readers, friends, acquaintances, friends I haven’t yet met (thank you, Matt LaCasse for that great term), make WUL what it […]
I think in most cases, the online acqaintances we make can later mature into friendships. But I also have people who call themselves my real friends in my physical life who haven’t been there for me, nurtured me or sent me help and support the way some people I have never met in person have. I believe that all friendships take time and care to mature. Time online has taught me not to discount people because of the medium where I first encountered them, though.
[…] with what being a friend means. You can see what Bill Dorman says here and what Shonali Burke says here. It made me realize that there are very big sociological changes going on in our definition of […]
[…] Bill Dorman and Shonali Burke probe into the efforts of friendship and internet relations. […]
@jocmbarnett = ) holdin’ steady @15yrs now!? Holy smokes, that makes me almost 30 -BAHAHAHA – Just wanted to see what looked like.
@stefsealy You really ARE my friend, Stef ;-)
@bdorman264 LOL. Duly noted. Except that the BC event will take place once #mybootcamp has been going at least a couple months more… :) @HowieSPM
@Shonali@HowieSPM You can call me Ray and you can call me Jay, just don’t call me late for dinner…………..especially at your place………………butter chicken…………….:).
@SocialMediaDDS Oh my goodness, Claudia, please don’t apologize for the length of your comment. I love that this post touched you enough to share so deeply. I need to re-read your comment to respond thoughtfully, so I will be back soon – but just wanted you to know that I appreciate your time and energy very much!
@Al Smith Well, thank you! I guess we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t miss every now and then, huh? Thank you for CARE-ing, Al (I know that’s not grammatically correct, but I wanted to show you some luhv….).
@jocmbarnett @skypulsemedia @voxoptima @mediatip @socialmediainf Thanks so much for sharing. :)
@stefsealy Thank you!
@Shonali The menu ? Just tryin to CARE and Share the message. With all the doom and gloom, we really need to CARE and just be nice to people.
My gut (radar) has been pretty good, when it comes to deciding on friends, but I too have missed on a couple occassions.
Proud of the way you have kept the BB goin. You are doing great !
@Shonali Very fluid and don’t try to put a strict ‘label’ on it; friend, acquaintance, call it what you will. We all know which ‘relationships’ have depth or not regardless of where they came from and you can call it whatever you want to.
I, too, really enjoyed @bdorman264 ‘s guest post on lorigosselin ‘s lifeforinstance tackling How Does Your Friendship Grow? The comments both on that post and over here have been thought provoking and I just loved your post today. I have just a couple of very best friends and a larger circle of casual friends that have stayed with me over the years and on Bill’s post, I labeled myself a farmer in that I would much rather nurture and tend to those valued few friends than to hunt and bag large numbers of people that I only know superficially. It’s just not my nature. However, there is something interesting about the sociology of friendships that I would like to bring up. Historically, our friendships have been primarily friendships of convenience. In other words, being the social beings that we are, we would create bonds of friendship where ever we settled and claimed our homestead. Before the phrase “global community” ever existed, we usually stayed put in one location and made our friends based on the convenience of location. As the world became more mobile, we modified the friendships of convenience to include friends that we made when we went away to college, when we studied abroad, when we did volunteer work during the summer in another state, when we moved for our career, etc. But, they were still friends that we typically met IRL and whom we shared a common/convenience with. We made friends with our children’s friend’s parents. We made friends with people in places we share our spirituality. We made friends at the dog park. These were friends but they were borne of convenience. NOW, there is a game changer in how we can choose our friends. We have SoMe. WIth SoMe we meet like minded people…people on the same career track, people with similar hobbies, people that can teach us things we crave to understand, people that we can teach. The permutations are almost limitless and I find that for me personally, these friendships have matured and blossomed in a completely new way. I have been fortunate to meet quite a few of the online friends that I have made via SoMe and the comfort level is there almost immediately. Through SoMe, we share so much, support each other so sincerely and, we are perhaps better able to “weed out” the SoMe “friends” that just aren’t working out for us.
I apologize, Shonali, for the length of this comment. And I thank you for having such a fun place to stop by!
@Shonali@bdorman264 Look beyond Facebook, then, for I know many without accounts there. Get offline. Look at the book club. If you attend a book club meeting, are you friends with the other members off the bat? Or, if you go to a wine tasting and talk to someone at the tasting, are you instantly a friend? Twitter chats and blog comment threads are no different than the wine tasting, right?
@Al Smith Thank you so much and back at you. What’s on the menu, btw? :p
I think you can get a feel for who/what’s real or not… but sometimes, your internal radar doesn’t work properly…. I know it’s let me down a couple times – what about you? And I too am really grateful for the people I’ve met online, so many of whom I’ve been able to connect with offline as well. There are so many people who’ve shown me kindness, without knowing me IRL – it’s amazing.
@Soulati | PR I don’t think it’s wrong to be interested in the human behind the @ – aren’t we all? I mean, I loved seeing your video the other week, it brought you alive for me. But if you told me something weird about yourself, or dark and secret, I’d never share it with anyone unless you expressly gave me permission to do so.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you say everyone doesn’t have to be a BFF. Bingo!
Great post, Shonali. I was going to talk to you about Thanksgiving. Me and MY dogs will see you soon. Ha ! No, this is such an interesting topic. I have always been a person who had to meet you IRL to make the determination, if you were a REAL friend. Today, I am so grateful for the friends I have met on line. Truly remarkable people, who continue to help me to this day. I am still amazed at the kindness and willingness of so many people to show support and help others on line. It is a Beautiful thing.
I think you can get a feel for who is “Real” and who is not. It is what it is. I would love to have a yearly get together with ALL the people I have met on line and have a chance to talk to them in person. Now, that would be cool.
I have a couple best friends back home in Ft. Lauderdale. We talk all the time, especially with football season approaching. i miss my boys.
Thanks Shonali, for this post. May you continue to prosper, my “friend”.
@John Falchetto … if it ever gets over, LOL. Thank you for stopping by, John.
You know, I really enjoy going to tweetups, etc, where I’m able to put faces to Twitter handles. But even better, for me, are the smaller gatherings, where we have the time to actually talk to each other. Do you think that is also a factor of growing older?
@Ari Herzog I’ve never been into that kind of game playing, but I know my mother has quite a few “friends” she’s made, whom she’s never met, via Farmville (!). And she values what they bring to her life.
I suppose for me, friendship starts blossoming when it starts growing beyond one dimension. That could be an online game, Twitter chats, a weekly farmer’s market trip, whatever. It’s when something about that person sparks a little more interest in you, and is reciprocated, so that both of you want to get to know each other better.
I think you put it very well when you said Facebook has contorted the definition of “friend,” Ari. As to your question – for me, some of the people I’m connected with are just that – people I’m connected with. Others are truly friends, or getting there. I suppose it differs for everyone. @bdorman264 What do you think?
@adamtoporek Me too! And to both you and @Neicolec – when you talk about online friends being a different type of relationship, do you mean that they stay more or less as online acquaintances?
@bdorman264 So you can call @HowieSPM “bro” but I can’t call you “bud”? Hmpf.
Yes, everyone’s definition of “friendship” is different. Makes for an interesting world, doesn’t it? There are definitely people I’ve met online that I wouldn’t hesitate to call if I needed to. But there are not a ton…
@jenzings Thank you! But be careful what you wish for. We may show up with all three dogs in tow …!
@TheJackB Me too!
@Neicolec I was wondering if I was the only one who had just one best friend…! The other thing that didn’t make it into the post – I know that I’m one of her closest friends, but I don’t know if I’m *her* best friend. To me, that doesn’t matter.
I love getting to know people online. It actually helps me make a better connection offline; just today I was looking at the RSVP list for an event I’ve been invited to, and my eyes automatically went to their Twitter handle to see if I *knew* them or not. I think that helps break the ice offline.
Do you ever find, though – as I asked @MattLaCasse – that sometimes, there are people you just don’t want to get to know further? Online or off? And I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, I’m really curious.
@bdorman264 I remember you telling me you thought I was prim and proper. A LOT of people have that impression. Why is that, I wonder? True, I’m not a wild child (those days are behind me, and believe me, I had them), but do I seem schoolmarmish or something?
I was floored by your interest and knowledge of cricket. Now, whenever I’m reading the scores, or watching a game (yay, Willow TV!), you immediately pop into my mind. I was also really touched that you would take the time to talk to me about cricket when I was so into the World Cup.
@NancyMyrland My pleasure – and thank you for stopping by! Btw – don’t you agree that our mutual friend Bill needs to stop claiming he’s invisible? He is SO not…
And as for @HowieSPM … what can I say. I enjoy him thoroughly, his badassness and all.
@MattLaCasse I love being called the “proprietor of this here blog,” LOL. Yes, you know you can reach out to me and I know I can do the same with you.
I like the “friends I haven’t met yet” bit. But are there also people you come across – whether offline or online – that you have no desire to get to know further?
@NancyD68 I feel like that about most people I’ve met online and feel a connection with, ginidietrich bdorman264 johnfalchetto included (though Bill is the only one of this group that I haven’t yet met IRL). There is only one person to date, who turned out to be quite different IRL than online. Now that I look back, the signs were there, and I chose to ignore them. So it was my bad.
Friends do make life better. Thank you for reminding us of that!
@jenzings I moved a lot as a kid too! I wonder if that influenced me too?
@prosperitygal My pleasure and vice versa! @rachaelseda
@LaurenVargas That’s really interesting, Lauren (and thank you for taking the time to come by and comment). Why wouldn’t you consider an online romance, or a romance that begins online, nowadays?
@KDillabough LOL! And yay for the run! @EricaAllison
@HowieSPM Omigawd, you agree?! Is the sun rising in the west today? :p
See, I don’t want to be friends with a brand. I want them to give me a good product, have good customer service, respond to my needs. I don’t want to sit down and have a drink (or dinner) with them. I’m willing to become a rabid fan, if they exceed my expectations, but that doesn’t mean I’m their “friend.” @KenMueller marijean
@mikepoynton Thanks very much for sharing, and to @johnfalchetto as well (and for the comment!).
@bdorman264 I could even throw in some wine in there. ;)
@HowieSPM You can call me bro, because I definitely have you on my speed dial….
@John Falchetto That was pretty cool; I think I’m going to run for mayor of twitterville….
I do like the food analogy……….
Who is this? Chief Alien? You’re actually sensical today? BIZARRE, DUDE. @HowieSPM
I think we also need to be careful about gossip. Each of us is eager to learn more scoopage about that Twitter “friend” and share it with the rest. Guilty? Uh-huh, me, too. Human nature to be interested in others who hide behind the @? Probably…
Regardless, I have developed an amazing network of new friends. Not BFFs, and they don’t need to be. It’s up to each peep to define what that relationship means and nurture it more than just with tweets and FB posts.
Anyone who starts their post with ‘fabulous guest Bill Dorman’ deserves and accolade :) and a Houra!
Since I’m a foodie I look at social media friendships as two categories, fast-food drive-by relationships (you know the ones who pop in and out and don’t really take the time to engage) and the better, sit-down, long dinner with friends.
Thanks for launching this discussion, which I’m sure isn’t going to be over for a while.
Long before “social media” was a buzzword and even before the world wide web was launched to the public, I telnetted to internet games hosted on academic servers — which we collectively called MUDs, or multi-user domains. In the spirit of Tolkein, I created a character name, gained hit points by defeating demons, and gained spell points by practicing to be a wizard. It was all fictitious — but real people were behind every character, typing commands to enter rooms and attack each other.
We may not have known anything about each other — and may not have shared anything in common — but we played on a common game. Is that friendship any different than the friendship @Shonali might share with @bdorman264 or @jenzings or @Neicolec?
But here’s a question, one I constantly ask myself over and over: How do you define a friend? Is there a universal definition we can all agree? Because it is clear Facebook contorted the definition to be anyone. You send me a friend request, I say yes; and we’re friends.
Friendship is beyond the word used to describe a relationship, though; and the question begs to be asked if people connected with each other on a social networking site or on a blog are truly friends — or merely people connected with each other.
There is a difference between a friendship, a relationship, and a connection; and I am afraid some people (and many companies) confuse the terms.
I have been astounded at the depth and level of friendships that can come from social media and blogging. While I do think the ones that go to the “next level” are the ones that go a step further than comments and tweets to Skype and in person, as @Neicolec said, online friendships are a different type of relationship that allows for different dimensions to develop.
I love this post @Shonali because I have written about this on the brand side before. Basing it more on lack of time and other things in our life taking precedence than lack of intent. Trust me there are many many brands we would LOVE to be friends with (thank you @KenMueller ) if we truly could and have it reciprocated.
But going beyond brands to people this holds the same. I have people I truly consider my friend from the Twitter even if I haven’t met them yet. Some I might broaden into my posse of people I really enjoy interacting with.
But with ‘Friendship’ so subjective it is definitely something to ponder. I will definitely take your ‘one phone call’ from the police station (I know the bailbonds system intimately…err..I mean I would call @bdorman264 to call his), But I wonder how many people would say that about someone they met via social media.
@KenMueller@Shonalimarijean Ken I agree with you. I am friends with Chobani. Probably the only brand I am a friend with on Social Media. I am friends with others off line.
The problem is volume. I will say every brand wants to be my friend. How many do I have time to develop a deep relationship with (brand ambassador level), how many a passive friendship, and how many I want to buy their products when I feel like it and don’t call me I will call you. I guess my split is 0.5%, 4.5%, 97% in that order for all brands in my lif. The 4.5% passive = I signed up for your email newsletter and special offers.
This doesn’t mean don’t try to be friends with your customers or leave the door open. Just be aware every brand is also angling for the friendship and we have finite amount of time. And how often are we ‘friends’ just for a moment (like some amazing deal we kiss up to them, tweet, mention on facebook, then poof see ya later.
@Shonali Thoughtful post as always. I would consider myself very much the farmer. Social has allowed me to nurture those relationships through nourishing dialogue and experiences–online and offline. I am much more guarded (or jaded) now than I was six years ago. Today, I am not sure I would even consider an online romance similar to how I met my husband. One thing is for sure, as long as I am still learning and growing, the relationships I cultivate will continue to grow as well.
@brasonja Really glad to find your site today..Am a retweeter myself.Do the Silly Stuff..Banter and such..but like to mix in Genuine thought
@Shonali@rachaelseda So love how we can have a cool comment tool like this that shares your friends with me ;) This is a great conversation and @Shonali I don’t even have one best friend anymore, live has become so transitional that I noticed once I moved even though she traveled to come to my wedding after time our lives grew apart. Before that would have bothered me. Now I recognize I get to have delicious memories and make new friends.
Thanks for sharing your friends with me.
@gwkeena Glad you like my tweets.
BTW, you could totally invite yourself over for Thanksgiving dinner at my house. Would love to have you!
@brasonja JUSTread “Are YouReally My Friend ?” Absolutely Made My Jaw Drop !..Exquisite ! So glad to be following you..
I have thought about this quite a bit. During more than seven years of blogging I have met or spoken with a a small number of people. It is not because I am afraid, have problems or any great secrets to protect.
Most of it comes from time constraints and being blessed with a lot of very good friends from the real world.
But I have found that opening myself up has opened new relationships and I think that it is fair to say that friendships are developing. I am grateful for that. But I don’t mind doing this friendship building slowly. Feels more natural to me that way.
@gwkeena Cheers! Likewise, glad to “meet” you :)
@brasonja So glad to connect with you..Will gladly follow..Cheers..
@gwkeena Thanks Gary for the RT’s, greatly appreciated.
@NancyMyrland@Shonali Just letting you know I still see ya out there and appreciate your friendship. Thanks for the kind words too…………..
I love this post, @Shonali . It’s nice to hear another woman (and more below) say they have only one best friend. I have lots of good friends, but only one that I really consider my best friend. As with you, she and I are always in synch no matter how long it’s been since we talked, and I can always rely on her.
That said, I’ve also made some great online friends. They really had my back a few weeks ago. People like nemultimedia soulati jennwhinnem ginidietrich markwschaefer and dannybrownI have enjoyed meeting and getting to know these people virtually and sometimes in phone conversations. I don’t know them in the same way that I know the people I see regularly in daily life or that I have a long in-person history with. I would not expect the same things from our relationship that I would from some of my off-line friends, partially because of physical proximity. On the other hand, none of my off-line friends could have had my back the way these people did.
I value these online friendships. I see them as a different type of relationship that offers different things than my offline relationships, but not necessarily any less than those. I also see them as having the potential to become deeper and turn into off-line friendships as well, if time and logistics permit. There are some dimensions to relationships that can only develop with shared, physical time together. Others, I’m finding, can only develop with shared online time together. I feel really lucky to have all those dimensions in my life.
Thanks, @Shonali !
@shonali You’re welcome.
@bdorman264 Thanks for mentioning me! I also caught up and commented on your blog post from yesterday…love it!
@brasonja Thanks so much for sharing.
@bdorman264 Aren’t you kind to mention me Mr. @bdorman264 …thanks! You are incredibly easy to be friends with, so just know that you have a LOT to do with the community have built, okay? Okay! @Shonali This is a good post! I like your description of the @ being a door opening. We have a great deal more to contribute to what happens after that than we realize. Thanks for writing this.
I’m pretty sure I met you and nancymyrland about the same time and of course, through Gini. When I was still green as a boog…………er, uh green as green can be. Both of you did the Good morning tweets. I responded and you did likewise but that is only half the story.
The other half is my perception of you being very proper and professional; I didn’t just cut loose with my silliness right away. However, after running w/ the cricket post and letting me mix it up with my BFF skypulsemedia I knew this was a nice, comfortable, genuine place to be.
I too like to cultivate my friendships and allow them to deepen if possible. Everybody has their own story to tell and I’m genuinely interested in hearing it.
Thanks for mentioning me in your post; August must be my month. I appreciate you very much.
I don’t differentiate between “online” and “real” friends. Though I’ve never met the proprietor of this here blog in person, if I had a personal problem I felt she would be able to hep me with I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to her. That goes for any friend I’ve made online. My philosophy is pretty simple. There are three types of people in this world. My friends, acquaintances I interact with and friends I haven’t met yet.
I don’t get in to any relationship to half-ass it. If we’re going to be friends, then we’re going to be friends. If we’re going to be friendly, and nothing more, that’s fine. Doesn’t matter if it’s Twitter, Facebook, or people I see in person every day.
@NancyD68 Hey, now I see why I was mentioned. Big smile on my face…..:)
@bdorman264 you better get over there my friend! :)
@NancyD68 I better get over there then, huh? Hola
I have made some fantastic friends here. I can’t imagine a day now where I do not interact with ginidietrich or bdorman264 or johnfalchetto
These people to me are my real friends. Even though I have not met Bill “in person” yet that is merely a technicality. I interact with these people every day and they are my friends. As far as friends that are not online, I reconnected with my best friend from 4th grade through high school on Facebook.
I worry about people who do not have both “real life’ friends and ‘online friends” because friends of any kind really do make life better.
@Shonali@EricaAllisonginidietrichjohnfalchetto Door’s always open to you here in Ontari ari ari oh for you, my friends. (and side note…there was a song that went: “Give us a place to stand…and a place to grow…and call this land…Ontario…then a bunch of Ontari ari ari’os. Thought I should explain that so you don’t go, “what the heck is she talking about?” Cheers! Kaarina P.S. The run was awesome. Just over 5K today. I know that’s zilch to Gini and John, but for me, it’s gold.
I’m a farmer, and a cautious one at that. I attribute a great deal of that caution to how I grew up: I moved, often (every 3 years) and for me the safest way to make friends in each new place was to hang back and get the lay of the land first. I never set out to collect friends on social networks–it seemed weird and false to me. I’ve treated my social networks the same way: observe, then follow/friend when I feel there’s a logical connection–a shared interest, viewpoint, or even someone that challenges what I think (if they do so respectfully).
As a culture, we’ve become accustomed to rapid everything: quick food, instant resolutions to our customer service problems no matter how complex, instant service, etc. True friendships take time, and a lot of nurturing.
@Shonaliskypulsemediamarijean now see, i would argue that we DO want to be friends with brands, if brands make it worthwhile. And that means treating us like friends, not as consumers. But it’s all in how we as marketers and communicators use the tools to engage and build relationships.
@EricaAllison IMHO you are definitely a farmer. And the frequency you mention, Erica – that’s *exactly* what I was trying to get at. Except you put it better than I did! Thank you – friend. :) @rachaelseda
@rachaelseda I love the point you make about everyone coming into your life to teach you something. I think I said something similar yesterday on prosperitygal ‘s radio show (except that was more about circumstances in your life that repeat themselves until you learn the lesson you’re supposed to from them… but it’s basically the same thing).
Sometimes that lesson isn’t pleasant – but we’re usually all the better for it, aren’t we?
And can we please get a pic of you and your BFF? :)
@BetsyKCross You know, that’s one thing I never believed – that the Internet was replacing real relationships. I do think some people can take the online stuff too seriously, to the point that they can’t function in the real world. But IMHO – and I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist – that has more to do with personalities than the Internet per se.
In fact, I’m living proof that online friendships can be extremely viable – that’s how I met my husband, and we recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary! vargasl is another one for whom romance blossomed online… and there are so many more.
So I absolutely agree with you that you can feel someone’s spirit, as you so eloquently put it. I just think there is also the possibility to mistake that for the entirety of a person, since it takes time to “really” get to know someone… whether online or off.
@KDillabough I got you to comment before your run… yay! And thank you for including me in the latter group!
Yes, I’ve met some wonderful people online. Eg, I would probably never have met @EricaAllison , you, ginidietrich , johnfalchetto … oh, so many more! had it not been for what social has given us. Or, I may have met them, but I don’t know if I’d feel as comfortable with them (and you) as I do because of the social media door that opened between us. It’s how we extend that initial meeting into IRL and beyond, I think, that is really the key.
@KenMueller I agree with you in terms of where you and I stand as friends. I’m so glad I picked up the phone and called you. It’s something I want to do more of – just a spur of the moment call. I love getting those, and I think it’s a nice way to let people know you’re thinking of them.
I was thinking a lot of skypulsemedia when I wrote this post… not so much the personal “friend” angle, but because of how he rails about how we don’t want to be “friends” with brands. Which, I think, is true for the most part. I almost started going there, but figured that could be a Part Deux to this post, if it worked out. Though marijean may have beaten me to that!
I am a farmer, for sure! I get overwhelmed with the enormity of the number of “friends” some folks can have and the appearance that they’re all BFFs. That’s too much for me. Like you, I have one best friend and she’s been my friend since high school. We live in 2 different states, talk maybe 4 times a year, but we pick up right where we left off and she’d be there for me in a second, just as I would for her.
I also feel that people begin to assume deeper levels of friendship online simply because of frequency of @ mentions or direct messages. I have a handful of people that I consider to be friends that I’m cultivating into true friends online and then a larger number of people that I just have a lot of fun with on a regular basis. I like what @rachaelseda said about people coming into our lives to teach us something, no matter how long they remain. I find that to be very true and at a minimum, remain open to the lesson and open to the departure. It’s the ebb and flow of life that makes us so rich! Thanks for the post, my friend. :)
I completely agree with the farmer approach. You can’t possibly cultivate every relationship. I learned at a young age after moving a few times that, you just can’t keep in touch with everyone. Sometimes you have to pick and choose. Sometimes there are those friends that you don’t have to talk to for years but when you see or talk with them it’s like nothing changed. Funny enough one of these type of people, my best friend growing up in Hawaii, is currently sitting right next to me, we haven’t talked on the phone or seen each other in person in 6 years but when I picked her up from the airport it was like nothing changed, these friends are timeless and priceless.
Regardless, I think everyone comes in your life to teach you something, no matter how long they remain. I have made some really great connections and friendships online, but only a handful compared to the amount of people I am actually connected with. I would rather have just a few good friends than a lot of acquaintances and I think you nailed that in this post.
I was very bothered by a discussion a bunch of my acquaintances were having a few days ago. They were talking about things that I used to believe, like how the internet was replacing “real” relationships, and it was “dangerous”. Because I jumped in I found out that my new friendships are as viable and sometimes stronger than some of my oldest friendships. Maybe that’s because of who I am now. I don’t know for sure. I would say to those people (from that conversation) that it really is possible to feel a person’s spirit as much online as off. It takes a lot longer to say something, but it feels just as genuine. And I’m all for anyone showing up for dinner! But you’d have to enjoy the noise!
There are so many gems in this post, Shonali, I just had to comment before heading out for my morning run, my BB:)
I love your distinction between the cocktail party and Thanksgiving dinner, and I agree it would be presumptuous to think we really “know” someone online, beyond what they choose to share.
I’m blessed to have met wonderful people online, and feel a part of many communities. But if I were asked who among all of those I consider close friends, the list would be short, meaningful and sincere. There are casual friends…people with whom I’m friendly, and there are friends that I believe I know a little better (because we’ve shared more), and who I really think I could call up or correspond with at a deeper level. (Just in case I have to tell you, you’re in that latter group Shonali:)))
People will come and go in our lives: to everything there is a season and a reason. But nurturing relationships, investing in them and building them one at a time is how I live my life, online and off, in business and in life. Cheers! Kaarina
One more thing, I knew as I was reading this that I had read something else recently that related to it, then I remembered. marijean had a nice post yesterday, from more of a marketing standpoint, called “The Secret of Social Media: You Get What You Give” You can read it at http://www.marijeanjaggers.com/2011/08/22/social-engagement-give/
Well, I would like to think that even though we’ve only known each other a short time, and never met in person, we’ve gotten to a nice point of friendship. In fact, I think that out of the blue call from you might have been a tipping point. And I agree with what you, and bdorman264 say.
From a marketing standpoint, we often gravitate toward the “friend grab” mentality. But that’s not friendship. That’s a mercenary relationship. Friendship has nothing to do with making money off of other people. It is about giving, not getting. And it’s this mindset that we need to get, even as marketers.
And…I’m glad to call you a friend and know that when we do finally meet in person, we will hit it off famously!