There’s a commercial out right now. I have no idea what the commercial is actually selling (a conversation for another time), but the scene is a young girl at home who is concerned for her older parents because they only have 19 “friends” on Facebook, while the daughter has over 600 so-called friends. The irony of the commercial is the parents are actually out of the house hanging out with real people while the daughter sits at home in her virtual world; first world problems.
I spend a lot of my time on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and soon Google+. They are essential tools to both interacting with people I probably would never have the chance to meet, as well as solid business promotional vehicles. I can attest that a good portion of my sales have come from social media contacts, and I’m appreciative of every single one. However, social media is only social to a point. At the end of the day, there’s no commitment to these relationships beyond 140 characters. You’re also not getting a true sense of these folks because we’re only putting up the things we want people to hear from us. There is little to no nuance in these friendships unless you’re willing to dig a little deeper.
The first “tweetup” I ever attended was a bit of a stretch for me. It was a local group who just wanted to put real faces and real names to the avatars and call-signs. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this meetup because I didn’t really know much about these folks at all. This was before I started using Twitter as a way to promote my work, so there wasn’t any apparent value in the meetup to me. I know, I was lame, I’m sorry. Despite my reservations, I went, and I dragged my wife along as a security blanket.
A funny thing happened at this event: I actually had a good time and met some nice people. I know it sounds crazy, but people can actually be nice, fun and friendly in environments beyond the pixelated screen. I don’t go to these events often, but when I do, it’s never a bad time. Props out to my Twitter homies, Michelle, Jonathan, Denise, Oakley and Annette.
Jump ahead a few years and now I’m working on building a business of my own. Twitter and Facebook have a whole new meaning to me, but still allow me a reasonable amount of anonymity. I have made sales and made a few friends from my Etsy contacts, but still stayed a bit at arms length to it all, again lame, I know. The cure has definitely been the craft shows I’ve attended and participated in. The more I go, the more folks I meet and the more openly social I’m obligated to be. Apparently, you won’t burst into flames if you shake the hand of the vendors you know through social media outlets. It’s not a matter/anti-matter situation, I promise.
Recently I’ve had the chance to hang out with a few new friends I’ve met through these shows, and I can honestly say it’s been the best hang-out sessions I’ve had in a long time. Big props to my new friends, Jeanette, Kat and Adam for being good inspirations and even better friends. We trade stories, experiences, learn from each other and grow as humans, artists and business owners.
Long story short, I love all the folks that I’m able to interact with through social media, but it’s the connections I make beyond those avenues that really make for memorable experiences and friendships. In other words, get off your but and go hang out with some real people you’ve met online. Go on, do it, you can thank me later.