Social Media is Not about Technology

My Friends

My Friends

Technology doesn’t change social relationships, it is just a different way to connect with people. People who have many real world friends likely spend a lot of time cultivating those relationships and put themselves in situations to meet and interact with new people.

It is easy to add “friends” to the social media sites you subscribe to but there are different levels of friendship. Thousands of online friends may be a great way to keep score and impress people but they are much more distant acquain-tances than real friends. You don’t mind asking the friends you meet every weekend to help paint your house, but you are unlikely to call your old co-worker from 10 years ago to come and lend a hand.

The same is true for online friends and relationships. Close friends can be called upon for favors, assistance and advice but not before there is a history of mutual sharing and benefit. Asking some stranger online to buy your offering or subscribe to your blog on the first contact is akin to asking a stranger on the street to come and help you paint your house this weekend. The internet is not so different to the real world. Give much more than you ask in return and you will soon find yourself surrounded by real friends that extol your virtues and provide the support you need.

Technology doesn’t change who or what we are, it only amplifies humanity. Nuclear weapons are just a bigger and more dangerous stick to hit people with. Airplanes are just a faster mode of transport, compared to walking. Humans still want to defend themselves or take other people’s possessions, just as most people want to connect with other human beings. Think about new technology as tools that help you become a better person. You can talk to more people, more often. You can get the opinions and ideas of more people faster, enabling you to make better decisions and pursue bigger opportunities. Don’t abuse the friends you find online and you might be able to slowly build an army of supporters.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

One Response to Social Media is Not about Technology

  1. Neil says:

    I use one of the big social networking sites and, as an ex-pat, it has certainly made a difference to the way I communicate with people. I’ve lost touch with a number of good people over the years mainly because I was never any good at ‘banging off a quick email’. For me, emails to friends feel more like letters. I care about the content and my writing style, I want the reader to feel that I’ve taken some time over it. And sometimes, when I’m busy, I just don’t have the time or energy to spend on such pursuits.

    While I may send similarly long messages to people on my social network site from time to time, I don’t feel ‘obliged’ to do so. When I see that someone has just run a marathon, or had a baby, it feels much more acceptable to write a short two-line comment congratulating them. In this way, it’s much easier to simply touch base and maintain contact with people spread out across the world.

    Social network sites also make it much easier to keep a tab on what your friends are up to. You discover things you didn’t know you had in common, even with people you may have known for years, and sometimes this can lead to collaboration on projects or simply the sharing of knowledge for each other’s mutual benefit.

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