This morning I had an email conversation with my friend, Rebecca, about social media interactions and how for many of us, the importance lies in the connections that are made rather than simply marketing a product.
Last week, I realized just how many people I was getting to know on my Facebook Bellingwood page. The interactions aren’t as intimate as those I have with close friends, but as a minister’s daughter who regularly interacted with hundreds of people at once, it feels like the same types of relationships are growing. I get to know them well enough to enjoy being around them. We aren’t together every day or even every week, but they have become part of my life and thus are important to me. Names and pictures, words and methods of communication are familiar and friendships are being built … with people I never would have had the opportunity to meet before this medium was available.
I’ve always been a connector. There are hundreds of people that I’ve encountered throughout my life and social media has given me the opportunity to reconnect with them. It brings me great joy to introduce people to each other and watch their friendship blossom … to watch them find commonalities with each other. I love to see people encounter a program or ministry, a service project or even a book or television show that I’ve exposed them to and become fascinated with the same things that intrigued me.
Immediately after I had the conversation with Rebecca, a college classmate posted an introduction to connect me with another writer friend of his. I was flabbergasted that at that exact moment, he thought to extend the invitation for two friends of his to connect. I grabbed it. Of course I want to meet someone new! Of course I want to be exposed to her thoughts and views on the world! His timing could not have been more perfect.
I see social networking as a wondrous frontier for us to explore with the same exuberance and excitement as early pioneers trekking across the wild west. There are great and grand adventures ahead and I like the idea of taking my friends with me for the ride.
However, I find that too many people only look for the pitfalls and dangers and circle the wagons rather than explore new territory.
What does it take to ‘like’ a new page on Facebook and learn about someone else’s journey? What does it take to ‘like’ a post and encourage someone along their own adventure? Yet we lurk behind corners, afraid to put ourselves out there unless we know people intimately … or worse yet, we ignore things because we are too focused on our own misadventures.
Social media has the potential to explode our world into something bigger than it is, to expose us to what others are thinking, even when we might disagree. We can learn and grow because of the great people that our friends know, the causes they support, the products they endorse, the artists they encourage and the passions they hold dear.
I would encourage you to make the most of social networks. Build and strengthen the connections to people you don’t see as part of your everyday life and to new people you encounter. Don’t run away, don’t fade away. When you are gone, you take part of the whole with you. When you interact, you make the entire thing better than it was.
C.S. Lewis once wrote about the loss of his friend, author Charles Williams.
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest
This is how I feel about the people I interact with in any area of my life, whether in person – in large and small groups, or online through social networking. Each of you adds to the whole of my experience … and yours. When you are missing, you take more than just yourself away from it, you take away so much more.
The world is bigger than our little circles of acquaintances and friends, and yet it grows smaller every day. There is great potential for each of us. Grab it. Connect. Share. Explore. And along the way, smile. You are becoming something better than you were yesterday.