“Social: 2. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.” – Dictionary.com
Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the 140 Character Conference in Vancouver, WA with my friend Bruce Elgort on the topic of Social Business Strategies. In addition, I was the official conference videographer and had the privilege of not only capturing the dynamic of the speakers and the event itself, but also to interview several emergency managers, local business owners and marketing executives about their social media usage during the work day as well as at home. The result of the project and the conference was an eye-opening glimpse at what it means for me to be social, online and offline.
For the majority of the people at the conference, being social means they are active participants on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. They have thousands of followers and friends, in a digital-sense, which means they are sociable, have influence and understand the value that social media brings to life. Me, I have a lot of followers on Twitter, I converse with people throughout the world, I am social. Especially in regards to the definition of social as written above. I am brave. I take risks on reaching out to people I otherwise don’t know. I am really social. Or so I keep telling myself.
The truth of whether I am social or not lies in the reality that online I hide behind a digital bravado, a confidence in a digital mask (known as an avatar which ironically is a photo of me) that exists to protect the real me from being hurt or misunderstood. What happens when I am not at the mercy of my digital device and I have to be social face to face with real people? Do I still have that bravado or does it melt away and become awkwardness?
Over the past year, I have invested a lot of time and energy in becoming a real-life social being, no longer introverted, but extroverted, seeking to be inspired and fueled by the passion of others. There have been, and continue to be, moments of awkwardness, anxiety and straight-up fear. But there have also been tremendous highs of conversing with amazing people, sharing insights and thoughts, and expanding my world in a way that online social networks can’t even come close to copying.
As much as I like the world of social media, it will never replace the real-life connections, opportunities and emotions that face to face conversations bring. It will always be second place. Always.
Am I social?
Yes, I am.
Are you social?
Let’s have coffee together and find out.