Yesterday I went to this conference on Social Media. Given that I am not the biggest lover of conferences (somehow I always forget to take the sticky name tag off and it goes through the wash and ruins my clothes), this conference was pretty good. I think we are at a very exciting point in social connection and it allows companies to give their users more direction in the growth of their product.
But, I will say I left some of the sessions a little disturbed. At the end of the day, social media is about building communities- communities where people have real connections with other people in a way that allows them to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. And while technology has certainly assisted in the discovery of new, previously geographically bound communities, I think it might be making us a little lazy.
My brother's birthday was a few weeks ago and he found that people he had not spoken to in years were posting on his Facebook wall with well wishes. And the conclusion we came to is, despite the fact my brother never interacts with these people, they still feel connected to him, because they read his updates, look at his pictures, see that (thank god) he no longer likes Blink128. Which, on one hand is nice- because perhaps those people would have lost all touch had they not had Facebook. But, on the other hand, a lack of information (sans Facebook) might have motivated these people to make a real connection- to ask how their trip was, rather than seeing smiling pictures and assuming it went well.
I should fully disclose, I do not have a facebook account- Im actually kind of a hater in that department. I like hand written notes, and phone calls, and even more than that, I like visits. All things I don't think social media will ever replace. So my hope for all of these gung-ho social media-ites, is that we not forget the social interactions that inspire our online communities. That we always return to a core of human connection. Because its not about Twitter or facebook or Jaiku (The Twitter-esk product Google bought and no one uses) its about the people who use these platforms. And I would like to meet all of you- in 140 characters or less.