Archive for media

Looking for….

Posted in On Dialogue with tags , , on September 23, 2009 by racheljackson

There was a really short programme on Channel 4 last night about singles adverts in the paper and the history of their development ( I particularly recall one that was read out from “Disinterested Lady – Go ahead…write to me…see if I care!!” but that’s going off the point). Driving back up the motorway from London today it got me to thinking about the number of different media that have sprung up in the last few years purely focussed on helping people to stay or get in touch – Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friends Reunited, Dating Direct, Twitter, Naymz, there’s even a few sites like SocialGo and dedicated to helping people to start their own networking sites. Despite the relative failure of the first recognised social networking site in 1997 –, Wikipedia will provide evidence to anyone who is interested that social networking is now a huge phenomenon.

So why this incredible desire to find and connect? To be found and linked to? My own theory is that right from the first day at school, even the extroverts amongst us take time to get to know people – time to make that first connection. Its not easy making the approach or knowing what to say. Even people you already know can be hard to stay connected to without a constant flow of communication.
Sites like Dating Direct, Facebook and all the others create a kind of latent level of communication; a warm call rather than a cold-call; an expectancy that means you skip that sense of first contact and “do they want to talk to me” nerves and move into the next phase. They create the illusion of “keeping in touch” even when you simply read someone else’s profile once a week and never speak to them again – a kind of online curtain twitching 😉
Whilst I find anything that encourages people to feel more connected to be a good thing, what depresses me slightly is how many times people rely on this slightly oblique way to communicate or connect and miss out on the infinitely more satisfying route of actually talking to and meeting up with other people! For me it echoes the practice of sending emails rather than walking down a corridor or (my own personal sin) sending a text rather than picking up a phone.
In my work coaching and training senior managers, so many times have I said to people “Have you actually had that conversation or asked that question?” only to find that people had sent an e-mail, left a post-it or maybe even gone so far as pencilling it in their “to-do” lists but never actually truly connected. How many things do you keep meaning to say? How many people do you follow on Twitter without ever sharing your viewpoint? How many people are you LinkedIn to that you’ve not actually met up with for coffee? Why not move off-line and book a date with a face instead of sitting in and looking through the glass. See how it feels to do actual rather than virtual social networking. If you’re not sure where to start – call me! 😉