An article in yesterday’s USA TODAY explored a possible new trend in social networking: people leaving online sites like Facebook and Twitter in an effort to reclaim their IRL (in real life) relationships. I don’t know about you, but this is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Some nights I can waste 30 minutes on Facebook for absolutely no reason and without any purpose. That’s 30 minutes I could be spending reading a book, watching TV, writing, painting my nails, exercising, folding laundry, you name it!
Usually I do my Facebooking when I’m plopped on the couch with my iPhone, sharing the same space with my husband as he watches sports. It all sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Truth be told, I do a lot of work in the online space. As a blogger and podcaster I feel a bit of pressure to be up on all the latest and greatest uses for Facebook and Twitter. And unlike those quoted in the USA TODAY article, people in my professional circles are not abandoning social networking sites but rather working to see how they can leverage them. Take Twitter for example. All sorts of people are using it to sell products, prospect for customers, conduct research, and form relationships that will improve their businesses.
Today I heard one of the most vocal proponents of Twitter, Guy Kawasaki, address the Social Media Moms conference I’m attending at Disney World. Guy has over 213,000 followers on Twitter and he uses it for all sorts of things, but mainly to drive page views to his Web site Alltop.com. As he was speaking, the moms in the audience were all a twitter, their faces in their iPhones and Blackberries, sending 140-character messages to their followers. I was taking notes the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper.
What I’ve come to realize, every time I attend one of these social media conferences, is that we seem to spend more time communicating out to the people who are not with us—readers of our blogs or our followers on Twitter—than we do shaking hands with the people seated next to us. Certainly I’ve seen the power of social networking first hand, and I’ve seen what these sites can do to enhance business communications for companies large and small. There’s even data to suggest that the “ambient noise” generated on Facebook and Twitter can make people feel closer.
But at what point does it become one more thing to organize and de-clutter?
Tell me, are you a lover of social networking or are you reconsidering its value and looking for more opportunities to connect with your “friends” in real life?