Social Networks Connect, they don't Replace

July 17th, I woke up and watched my friend's facebook page turn into a memorial to the great and loving husband that he was. I watched my other friend's page turn into an outpouring of friendship, stunned sadness, and finally...offerings to join her IRL. The effectiveness of a social network for connecting is obvious, the depth of those connections is a bit more mysterious. In the background of the connecting a more human network is coalescing ... one made of phone conversations, emails to coordinate activities, and finally, traveling to build a village around my friend.

The whole episode made me think again about where social networks ... the online variety ... fit in life.

What good are 100 'friends' on a social network if even one of those friends inhibits you from being yourself and really connecting to the people that know you and want to be there for you?

Intertwined social networks become emotional nightmares as people reach out to friends in coded messages while trying to maintain professional coverings. Wrecked relationships, depression, friending and unfriending, bad days ... all of this conducted on tiptoes because peers, bosses, and coworkers are watching over your moves, your playlists, your pictures.

And now I go back to my friend who remains my social network friend but is no longer on our little blue planet.

157 friends on facebook and the only reason this day is anything but an empty mess is because I have the luck of surfing in Hawaii with my boy ... Who doesn't even have an fb account ... And an old (well, she's young ...) friend from Minnesota that delivered her phone number as soon as she connected the subtly coded status message.

So, here's the thing ... Social networks connect ... But they don't replace ... They don't even give insight into where a person's soul is unless that person is willing to risk their social standing at work or was smart enough to keep their work and life networks separate...after all, does your boss really need to know that you're depressed, let alone the reason ...

So...the time has come for me...time to tighten up the social network so my friends can be my friends and let it all hang out ...time to have a beer with a friend IRL ...and time to re-grow that LinkedIn network for the professional side of life.

And ... For my friend ... I'm sorry we didn't have more time here ... Perhaps we will have a chance somewhere else but if we don't ... Well ...

:-(

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