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If this is social networking then why are we home alone on our computers?

October 20, 2008 at 6:43 am

Social networking brings to mind something other than sitting solitary at home on my computer. I hear glasses clinking, the din of a crowd, small and not-so-small talk wafting out of the mouths of seemingly respectable people. There’s a jazz trio in the corner, a tip jar on the portable bar and a singer with a smoky voice. Peel n’stick name tags, maybe?

Not a Imac keyboard, a screen full of strangers’ photos, and a littany of inane “what I’m doing now” notices posted every few hours.

Basically, I have the kind of personality defect, which I think stems from being the youngest child, of not wanting to feel left out, of never wanting to miss something. So, like millions of other drones, I hopped onto Facebook and LinkedIn, joined Shelfari with the love of literature as my excuse, and think I’ve even agreed to something called Plaxo. Now, that sounds a little space aged and cold to me… Plax-o?

Oy.

Is it the number of “friends” you amass or “contacts” as Linkedin likes to call them? Facebook and LinkedIn even link to each other, just in case you feel like your being too social on one and need to strut your business persona on the other. I perpetually post clever enticements to visit my blog in both places which I’m sure is verbotin. Who’s to say what’s “socially acceptable” anyway? Who makes up these rules for this pretend networking world?

If we think of these venues as marketing tools, I’m be all for them. I wonder, though, if they really do anything to increase our visibility or contribute to our businesses. Believe me, I’ll stay on there just to find out.

Once in a while, a name from the past or an obscure cranny of my life will pop up and we’ll have a moment of how great it is to be in touch. That moment usually passes quickly and our estrangements scurry back to their estranged places never to “meet” again.

Not always. But mostly. 

I’m amused by technology. No longer totally mystified by it, above it (hah!) or a slave to it, I question how it replaces real human contact. At work it keeps us in touch in a more immediate way without the strings of personal conversation. Gee, phone calls are such a commitment these days. Hardly anyone deserves THAT kind of time and attention. Sad.

I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water and I do try to balance my verbal human talk with my cyber talk so I will continue to explore these brave new worlds. 

I’m just still a little clueless about how Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo (MySpace anyone?)  enhance our relationships, or even our professional lives. Can anyone tell me? Have you had an experience worth sharing about the benefits of the new online cocktail party? Am I missing something (again)?

Having worked for myself in a little boutique pr agency in Boca, prior to my current publishing position, I’ve been known to say that if I never had to go to another Chamber of Commerce mixer or breakfast networking event, I would be more than content. So, maybe I just don’t like networking, period. (Or is it just the people part?)

That pathetic conclusion may be partially true, but I do hope we keep an eye on the waning qualities and quantities of personal touch and personal connection. Just call almost any business and tell me how the electronic phone answering tree makes you feel? My guess is, not warm and fuzzy.

I am anxious to hear your thoughts and please, some tips!

Gotta go. Have to let my “friends” know what I’m doing now. It’s been a couple of hours.

See ya.

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