Shattering barriers | acidlabs
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Shattering barriers

Shattering barriers

I had breakfast with an online friend this morning. It was the first time I had met Jasmin Tragas in person, but it felt like we were just friends and colleagues catching up for a chat.

We talked kids and spouses, social media, continuous partial attention, ambient intimacy, books and a bunch of other subjects of interest. It was fun, but unlike what usually happens when you meet someone for the first time, the complex and challenging social barrier of introduction was missing – we just didn’t need it as our online connectedness through tools like Facebook and Twitter had already done the hard work for us.

What I mean by this is that through use of social media tools, people who work around the corner or across the world from each other are able to overcome the challenges around meeting and learning about someone (colleague, friend, someone who shares an interest, whatever) and jump straight in and do great work, share knowledge, have engaging conversations and build relationships to a deeper level more quickly. For me, this is one of the key benefits, if not almost the entire value proposition of social media.

I experienced the same effect at Office 2.0 earlier this year, when I was able to physically meet a significant number of the folks I speak and collaborate with almost every day. Again, we were immediately able to engage in meaningful conversations and talk in detail about topics of mutual interest without the social introduction barrier.

The barrier breakdown factor is one that I mention fairly often in conversations about social media. When you explain to people that Twitter isn’t just about knowing when people are going to the bathroom and Facebook isn’t just about sharing photos and comments about the weekend barbecue, and couch it in terms of achieving goals in a more efficient and speedy way, it can make a difference to building an understanding of social media value.

Stephen Collins
No Comments
  • NathanaelB
    Posted at 13:32h, 31 October Reply

    Great post and very true! Although I’ve met people online before meeting them in real life before, it wasn’t as obvious as at STUB2 a month ago where half the people who were there were people I had met on Twitter before meeting them in person. And it was great! The only problem was having to remember people’s real names so you wouldn’t have to use their Twitter aliases … but apart from that we already knew everything about each other; if not details like employment, occupation etc then at the very least the personality – so we could just get straight into conversation … although the quality of conversation deteriorated throughout the night thanks to the generosity of Happener 🙂

  • Andy Piper
    Posted at 19:22h, 31 October Reply

    I’ve written before about real-world networking sparking off from online social networking, and I’m a firm believer that it is important to do so where possible to bolster connections. This is a great description of how and why tools like Twitter help to break down the barriers and smooth the process of physical networking.

  • Stephen Collins
    Posted at 20:03h, 31 October Reply

    Andy, I couldn’t agree more. The value in social media tools really gets to shine through when you take the stop of actually meeting someone. I think the reverse situation also applies – I actually have deeper and more aware relationships with many of my real life colleagues and friends as I can actually keep up with them better than ever before both professionally and socially thanks to social tools.

  • Doug Cornelius
    Posted at 22:42h, 31 October Reply

    I completely agree. I have found that online social media does not replace face-to-face interaction, but enhances it.

    People should look at social media, not as websites, but as a communication platform. You are broadcasting information.

  • Jasmin Tragas
    Posted at 15:48h, 01 November Reply

    Stephen it was great to hook up yesterday. I was just describing to some friends how these tools helped take all the awkwardness out of our meeting. I was able to ask you about your family trip and your daughter’s blogging and other things we had gleaned through fleeting online interactions over the last couple of months.

    In a way, social media used this way helps to remind us the better we know each other, the easier it becomes to communicate and work together. Understanding ourselves and appreciating the uniqueness of our friends, colleagues and associates over a period of time beats any one day team-building activity or trust game.

    Of course it doesn’t substitute face to face interaction, but it does act as a catalyst for communication in a time-starved world.

    Glad I didn’t say anything silly tho or it might have ended up on your blog!! *blushes* 🙂

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  • Chris Brogan...
    Posted at 14:25h, 22 November Reply

    To me, it’s now a blend. It’s a cyborg moment. It’s the mix of using Twitter *and* making humans show up magically from its innards.

    I like this. Thanks for pointing it out. I’m glad it resonates in ways with what I was asking about tonight.

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