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Being Sociable Loses Meaning Online

Relationships are made face to face

Relationships are made face to face


Is it just me? Social networking is all the rage but it is so shallow. Don’t get me wrong. It’s terrific for finding information and making connections with interesting people. But most relationships are transitory within these tools. I expect I have made more connections and had more chats people through Twitter since 1st January this year than my ancestors had in their lives. 

I just get to the point when my head is frying with the amount of information (or tweets) that I have to sift through that I want to reach for the brilliantly titled book ‘Taming the Information Tsunami‘ by Bill Bruck to cool it down. And I have learnt that I am not being rude when I ‘unfollow’ people so that I can get my life back under control and keep the guilt in check for not reading all those damn tweets. 

I have noticed that whenever I join up to a social networking tool or site such as the business networking site, ecademy.com, I get a small wave of people sending a message saying something like “Hi, I’m Greg. Let me know how I can help you“. What? Are you mad or just socially inept? I have seen this today on Twitter too. “Let me know what I can do to make your day!” You can get real for a start! 

I’m afraid that’s a big turn off for me when someone gushes how they want to make my life extra-super-special. It feels like the unwanted attentions of someone who fancied you at school but from whom you could not run away fast enough. 

But, I am hooked by the usefulness of all the tools such as FaceBook and Twitter. FaceBook helps me keep up with my past and Twitter helps me keep up with my future. I have been in touch with some terrific old friends and workmates through FaceBook. And with Twitter, I have managed to learn vital lessons in connecting with people with shared interests, and even experience contributing to a radio programme.

For instance, the highly skilled radio presenter (William Wright at BBC Radio Lincolnshire) reminded me, unwittingly, of something very important last night on his show. Technology is poor at helping to make meaningful bonds with other people. 

At the end of the section to which I had contributed, William took his headphones off, looked me in the eye and said thank you. He then asked me if I had done any radio work like this before , to which I said that I hadn’t. He then suggested that if it was easier for me, we could speak over the phone or through the internet next time rather than come into the studio. 

But, the reality is that I got to know about William through Twitter. And I got to know William by sitting in his studio with him. And that is human. Connections can be made now through the internet and relationships are made face to face.

  1. 11/03/2009 at 9:14 am

    Will – a thought-provoking post. But isn’t it more that online is just different? In the good old days one could have a relationship through snail-mail correspondence, whereas today it is all so more immediate and widespread. It certainly brings different challenges, but also opportunities. Some relationships don’t need to be cemented face to face (like with your IT trainer, for example) whereas others most definitely do.

    • arryawke
      11/03/2009 at 9:54 am

      Hi Caroline – Yes, I agree that some relationships don’t need to be cemented face to face and, yet, it still takes time to get to know someone whether through a face to face or virtual means. When you attended our live online training course, it took a while for everyone to become comfortable with the environment and the trainer which would be normal in any relationship.

      However, many people on the web assume that the immediacy of the medium is a substitute for getting to know you. It’s one thing to offer to help an old lady across the street, but it’s another thing to offer to help someone improve their life without knowing if they need it. I probably sound a bit pompous, I know. I do like social networking and the opportunities that it has given to me, it’s just that people are impertinent on the web of they are not too careful!

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