Author and Professor Deborah Tannen recently explained to Judy Woodruff on PBS that everyday talk and shares on social media isn’t about information we need to know. It’s about staying connected to the people we care about.
I think of social media as an extension of the how-was-your-day conversations that let you know someone cares about you, so you feel less alone in the world.
What someone is having for dinner, what beach they’re on with their family or a selfie with a friend, and the likes and comments that may follow aren’t necessarily important.
It’s the connections that ensue that are important.
Social media haven’t transformed human relations. They have intensified them. While that means ramping up some of the stresses and frailties of friendships, it also gives us new, more immediate, more creative ways to stay connected to the people we care about, who care about us.
I’d take it a step further. Social media gives us the opportunity to meet, know, and care about those whom we’d never have met otherwise.
A week ago, I talked with a lawyer friend across the country whom I met and got to know through social media. We talked about his wife’s serious illness. I felt good to be there for him. He told me it felt like talking to a brother.
Lawyers are often told by marketers to look at social media as a means of distribution — as a way to get more eyeballs on blog posts or other content authored by a lawyer. That’s totally missing the mark.
“Content” is a the currency of building relationships. Without words at a networking event and without content on social media, there’s no vehicle for us to communicate and engage.
But the words and how many people hear or see them are not the end goal. The end goal is relationships. Relationships with people you’d like to get to know and with whom you would like to know and trust you.