A Young Professional's Perspective: The Importance of Connecting IRL
Monday, March 10, 2014on
The internet can suck you in, can’t it? Our online interactions through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are increasingly common and captivating. It has become the norm to connect with friends, coworkers, customers, and potential friends or clients on these sites. Social Networking sites provide a convenient channel to “connect” with all types of people, but they can also hinder our relationships in real life (IRL). Research has shown that our time spent online can not only distract us from the work we should be doing, but also have a negative effect on our mood, self-esteem, and long-term emotional stability. Think about it for a moment. We “friend”, “follow” or “connect” with hundreds, even thousands of people on social media - but then what? Some of us observe these friends’ lives from afar (or what they show us of their lives, at least), but for many of us - it typically ends there. Online relationships and interactions seem harmless, when in reality, the sense of connection they offer us isn't really there. Our quest for more connections, more relationships, and more connectedness can dilute our real-life connectedness and well-being. Our interactions on these sites are increasingly becoming about quantity and not quality. In an article written by social media and marketing expert Jay Baer entitled “Social Media, Pretend Friends, and the Lie of False Intimacy,” he expands on these ideas of social media interaction and gives his suggestions for better connectedness. He talks about the number of “inboxes” we possess and how this affects our attention span and beliefs of interaction. He suggests that social media can form a sense of false intimacy/connectedness that in reality, doesn’t exist. These connections are mostly shallow in nature - making us, in fact, further apart as a society. The takeaway is that we should be making an effort to connect with our “connections” IRL; attempting to make real life friendships out of these online friendships (the ones that are worthwhile). Whether it’s a personal or work relationship online, the real life, face-to-face communications with this person (or group of people) will be a far more enriching experience! Humans thrive on real-life social interaction. Meals together. Coffee together. Face-to-face interaction. So now that our eyes have been opened, how do we accomplish this? We make an effort to invite two or three of our online connections to grab coffee, lunch, or drinks after work one day. Do this monthly. Get to know these individuals in real life. Beyond personally reaching out, attend networking events within your industry. Moreover, be mindful of how much time you're spending time online and what you’re doing when you’re there. Are you being productive, or are you mostly getting sucked in? PULSE Members…do you have tips to staying connected IRL? What's worked for you? Claire Richards is an Account Executive for B2B Media in Greenville. She sells fleet and retail graphics for companies across the country. Claire enjoys playing soccer, listening to live music, and is currently serving on the PULSE Marketing Committee for her third consecutive year.