Every community has good things and bad. Some people may dominate. Some voices may be lost or, worse, unheard. Everything may look imperfect. Some things may look too perfect. It is no different in social media communities.
Two years ago, Twitter saved my life. This sounds dramatic, I know, yet there is a kernel of truth in the statement. My physical community seemed to be roadblocked. My core seemed to be drying out. I was uninspired. When I began to tap into the conversations happening through Twitter, it was like striking a spirited spring. It was more than the 140 character messages gushing through; it was the content of the characters behind the tweets. It was enlivening. Something sparked.
Communities age. It is no different in social media communities. They may show a little age in the way cliques have developed or how some of it all begins to sound the same with cookie-cutter formulas and messages. A positive thing about social media communities, though, is that there seems to be an almost endless stream of new people to engage. In fact, if you move beyond your “usuals,” there are people who are sharing a compelling message or story. It is important, from time to time, to move beyond your comfort zone and meet new neighbors, gain new insights.
Having said this, it is time for me to move back to connecting to my real community. Although I will continue to be involved in my social media circles, I realized that a social media community without a real face-to-face community has a hollow feel to it. My belief is that my social media community experience will be enhanced by having more real connections and conversations in my immediate physical community.
I am not a hermit. I live in a real neighborhood. I work in a real office. I am “connected” in, yet I just don’t feel like I have a real circle of mutually supportive relationships. To often, we feel like an individual in a crowd, silos standing in a field. We need to feel like individuals connected in a community, supportive and interactive, writing a better life story together. Just as the aspen trees do, I need to have that rooted foundation in which an above ground life can spring.
What is my plan then? I haven’t figured it all out, but my working thoughts are to try to start a monthly group of people who are interested in discussing self-leadership topics. It may be breakfast or lunch group. It may be a dinner group. Whatever it ends up being, it will be a group willing to engage in conversations on how to do more and be better in all that we do — business and life.
If you are reading this in the north Dallas area, let me know if you are interested in joining in the conversation and building a real, connected community. You can join the newly created Meetup – Authentic Leadership Dallas. We need a spark in our communities, and I am ready to get to work.
What is your split between sharing in a face-to-face community and sharing in a social media community? I am interested in your thoughts and perspectives on building communities within a 6-mile radius of where you live. What works?
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Connect Now: Real Community
Just a note, Erin Schreyer and I have teamed up, and we are hosting our first meeting next week. We hope you can join us. Just check out the Meetup page! Thanks!
I can absolutely relate to what you’re talking about here. I have also made some connections online that have allowed me to reach outside my “normal circle.” It has been very helpful, but I recognize that it is the face-to-face connections that are most important. It’s harder to build those though, isn’t it?
It is harder to build those face-to-face connections, Bobby. It takes more time, more logistics, and more effort, yet they add so much value to all that we do. Thanks for your comments! Jon
A friend of mine had once said ~ “the size of your heart determines the size of your world” ~ or something to that effect. And then he posed the challenge ~ “How big is your world today”? And I know he wasn’t talking about the “social media” world 🙂
So, here’s to communities and our involvement in them – online and (more) offline. All the best!
Love that quote! Yes, I am going to try to expand my world this year. Thanks, as always, for your inspiration, Kumud!
Hi Jon. I enjoyed your article and can relate to your desires for authentic real-life connections. I think it’s a need placed inside everyone of us and for me it’s ultimately fulfilled in my relationship with God. Yet there is still that need/desire for face-to-face relationships that social media will never be able to fulfill.
I think your article, along with the comments from Shelley, are indicative of a larger movement happening in our culture. As social media is reaching a level of maturity, people are finding that it has its place but it doesn’t substitute for authentic personal relationships. I’ve found that I have to put intentional effort at reaching out to people to create and sustain relationships, which isn’t always comfortable and sometimes energy-draining for me as an introvert. But I figure if I don’t put forth the effort, then I have no one to blame but myself when I feel disconnected or lonely.
Excellent insights, Randy. I am committed to starting this connected group, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. Taking that step is always the hardest part, especially for us introverts. However, when the real connection happens, it makes it all worthwhile. It is amazing how we can be so “connected” in our social media communities yet so disconnected in our immediate, physical communities. The paradox of today’s communities! Thanks again! Jon
Hi Jon, I am so blessed that we have such groups here in the York Region area. It is so important to get that face to face time with people you can talk to about business and about life. It is so easy to get caught up in twitter and social media because we tend to create relationships with people that share our thoughts and interests. It’s been so validating and so rewarding, and it has truly made a difference in my life, like it has yours. It was just this holiday season that I really felt a void missing. Conversations and interactions… even knowing what I can do to make a difference in my own community in a meaningful way! Time for be to be attending a breakfast group myself! Hope you find one too!
Thanks, Shelley! It is important to have those face-to-face relationships and hold each other accountable, as well as help each other grow. I am working to get that started here. Any suggestions on what works are welcome… Thanks again! Jon