Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Value of Virtual Friends

I read a recent blog post by Seth Godin, one of my favorite marketing gurus (He is to marketing as USA Today is to news: short and to the point), titled "Maybe you need new friends." 

Here's the entire blog post (When you have ADD, short and to the point is the best.):

Maybe you need new friends

Real world friends are hard to find and hard to change.
But virtual friends?
If your online friends aren't egging you on...
If your online friends don't spread the word about the work you're doing...
If your online friends aren't respectfully challenging your deeply held beliefs...
If your online friends don't demand the best from you...
Then perhaps you need new online friends.
 (Click here to read Seth's blog)

I think online friends are awesome. I have connected with some great people online, particularly via Twitter in the last couple of years. These are individuals that I may never meet IRL*, but I'm sure if I were to meet them, we would talk for hours, just like old friends.

Online friends can push you and demand the best from you, partly because they don't have any other role in your life - they don't know your baggage or hang-ups - sometimes they are "the push" that you need to take a risk. 

A couple of my twitter buddies immediately come to mind:
  • @LizStrand. We've been following each other for over a year and we've had several Twitter conversations about a huge range of topics. I think @LizStrand knows everything about sports while my knowledge is limited to just my favorite sports (and sometimes barely those), but I am continually learning things from her tweets.
  • @MeredithGould has been a great resource in a wide variety of ways. She's tweets about healthcare marketing and faith (Very helpful when I started working on a church social media task force). She also wrote a book, "Staying Sober" that was published by my employer, Hazelden. (that's just too cool) Plus she seems to follow some excellent Twitterers.
And now I'm finding friends among my fellow Minnesota bloggers - some real and some virtual.

I know the value of online friends because having online friends is not new to me. Not even close!

In the mid 1990's, during the days when online was basically AOL, I was involved with a regular chat group that would talk about (don't be shocked) the soap opera, Another World. We would meet online once or twice a week chat about plot lines, but also daily issues in real life. After awhile, you got to know the regulars. Eventually, we decided that the chats weren't enough, so we started an email group. We were individuals from all over the country, with different life journeys and a wide range of ages. 

About a year into our bonding, we scheduled a get-together in NYC. I was sharing a hotel room with one of the other group members (whom I had never met) and her daughter. My family was freaked about this. They were sure that something horrible was going to happen. Instead, we had a blast and it was the first of many gatherings including weddings, birthday celebrations, etc. 
(That's a group of us from a 1996 NYC visit with actors Charles Keating and Victoria Wyndham. I'm the disembodied head on the far left.)

Another World went off the air in 1999 and the group is still exchanging emails and getting together when we're traveling near each other. Today, many of us are on Facebook

And thank goodness for Facebook! I have renewed so many friendship on Facebook and I am able to maintain friendships on there.

Social media may have its gawdy, commercial side, but the benefits of its reach are far beyond what some might have imagined. 
* if you're a neophyte, IRL stands for "in real life."

1 comment:

MulberryMary said...

I love this post! Probably because lately I have been thinking a lot about my new online relationships. They rock. The other reason is that you mentioned Seth Godin and I too really appreciate his short to the point approach.


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