This morning I’ll be heading to Toronto for a weekend of connecting, sharing, learning and of course, fun at Podcamp. It’s been a long time since I’ve been really excited about attending an event. Perhaps it’s because I don’t get to go to many events. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting the chance to meet up with some people I haven’t seen in a while, and actually meet some people I’ve only known online until now.
The whole thing has me thinking about this online social community that I’m privileged to be part of.
I’ve been fortunate throughout my life to live in many different cities, be exposed to many different cultures, and work in many different industries. As a result, I have friends from just about every walk of life you can imagine. It’s terrific. Some I am very close with. With others I’m more of a good acquaintance. Each of them are special to me in their own way.
But there’s something about this relatively new group of friends I’ve discovered in the past couple of years. For some reason, even though I haven’t known these people for that long, and even though I don’t see them every day, or have even met some of them face to face, I feel very close to them. And today, it occurred to me why the Web allows for these close relationships to happen, in spite of the lack of geographical or physical connection.
You see, when you meet someone the traditional way – at work, through a mutual friend, or even by chance – the connection is very one on one. The relationship is built through a series of individual conversations. Often you only get a certain perspective on a person at first. You get to know them only in the context of your own interaction with them. But in the world of social media, we’re many. Talking to many.
So, not only are you getting the one on one stuff, and connecting on that level – you are also seeing many other dimensions of the person at the same time. You see their creative expression on their blog. You see their business side through their business-type profiles (think LinkedIn). And perhaps, most importantly, you are privvy to their conversations with others. You see how they interact, many different facets of their personality appear at once, depending upon who they are talking to.
The result? You get to know the person a lot better, a lot faster than you normally would.
And this, I think, is the primary reason why my online friends mean so much to me. Because I see all of them. And they see all of me. And that, is why I love this place, and why I love these friends.
Looking forward to seeing you again, meeting you finally, and getting to know you if you’re new.