According to Bing, the basic definition of social really means just that, being social; relating and interacting with one another, and building relationships. I’m not convinced that the media type that has taken on this very term, serves the same definition, in all cases. Do interactions facilitated via the digital bi-ways actually contribute to creating and building effective relationships? My answer… it depends. For me it really depends on the type of relationship involved.
For relationships with family, I have seen first hand how Facebook and other social media has actually gotten in the way of how family members communicate and interact with each other. My point of view is that Facebook should not be considered a mass communication vehicle, because what happened in Vegas, should probably stay in Vegas and not on your Aunt or Grandmother’s wall. In my experience family members also seem to believe that a tweet is a replacement for calling family members on their birthday or paying them a visit in person. Sometimes old school is just better!
However, there is an exception to my opinion here. It relates to something that may be a bit of reach to call social, but I think it does fit within the context of social media. It is a website called Caring Bridge. This is essentially a social media site for people with serious illnesses. It allows them to provide updates and stay in touch with friends and loved ones. It allows people to provide support, when the circumstances may not have otherwise allowed it. When my father was faced with a terminal illness, I saw the brilliant application of this social media at work. It allowed my Dad to stay connected and to share the deep insights about his journey. Even though I spoke to him or saw him everyday, this social medium allowed him to share things about his experience, that he may not have been willing to share with me directly. For me, this is social at it’s best.
I also think that social media is effective for less initimate relationships, such as professional relationships or other relationships that might benefit from the connection with a stranger. …Someone you may have not connected with, if it wasn’t for social media. I think a great example is being able to connect with fellow consumers to discuss experiences with products or brands. I also think it’s effective for facilitating community connections or forums, based on a common interest or cause.
Overall, I think social should considered a mechanism to supplement our other interactions, but should not replace face to face interactions with the people in our lives that mean the most to us. Those require real face time!
*Image courtesy of calibergroup.wordpress.com