Google announces that its search engine will now display results before the user has finished typing. Called Google Instant, it will shave two to five seconds off every internet search. Wow, it just has to be faster and faster, huh? Now, as enamoured as I am with technology and gadgetry, I can at times be a bit of a Luddite as well. In modern times, a Luddite would be someone who opposes technological advance due to sociocultural changes that may be associated with it. I can be fascinated with the marvels of new technology and still be concerned that it may be leading us to behave as if human connection can somehow be ‘fast-tracked’.
While I have recently started using Twitter and have become more au fait with blogging and LinkedIn, the Luddite in me wonders about the sociocultural changes that these, and other ‘social media’ will inflict on us all. I’d like to keep a little perspective on them. Surely, they are just new tools to assist us in our relationships; they do not replace real human interaction. When it comes to relationships…..REAL human relationships…social media has its limitations. Real relationships, built on trust and knowing of the other, take time. Real relationships cannot be fast-tracked. If we rely too much on social media, we run the risk of simply becoming ‘people collectors’, spending more and more time with greater and greater numbers of people in cyberspace, ending up with a bunch of ‘thin relationships’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying these new media for what they are. As I said, I like my gadgetry. The thing I’m enjoying most, however, is the real life meetings and the new burgeoning relationships that are developing out of them. Without exception, every person I’ve met up with so far from a Twitter or LinkedIn connection is a gem. And it’s still early days. I look forward to further conversations and sharing of ideas with these good people. I am excited about sharing more of our world views. I’m playing the long game. I’m in it for the relationships, the real ones that arise out of meeting online. I’m not, as George Michael sang, looking for fast love.
I also trust that if business is to come about from some of these relationships, it will happen. It is the real life encounters that are inspiring me, motivating me, expanding my mind. It also seems to me that it is these real life relationships that are the kind that will make the world a better place. I’m pretty sure that we need more human intimacy in this world.
I recently read a blog that said ‘shopping existed before Wal-Mart’. The same goes for ‘social media’. The drive for human connection and the corresponding social skills to make this happen existed before social networking sites. But if electronic media continues to be a facilitator of real life relationships, I’m all for it.
So let’s send an email or tweet or IM to the person in the next office to us, then leave our computers to meet them over a coffee for 15 minutes. Let’s have conversations, share something of ourselves, find out what makes others tick, get to know them more….and play the long game in our relationships.
PS. The irony of the subject matter in this blog and medium in which it exists is not lost on me.