Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Upside of Social Media

If you've read any of my earlier posts - you'll know that I've always had mixed feelings when it comes to social media.

On the one hand, it's a huge time-suck and it's easy to get distracted and spend useless hours updating your status(es), profile(s), and all responding to others' messages, opening cool links with YouTube videos in them, etc.

With so many social media outlet clamoring for attention - you also have to check multiple services with multiple logins - and then try to keep track of all the "friends" (or "followers" or whatever) you have on each service - and then post relevant stuff to that particular site.

Which site do you check most often? Where should you invest your time? If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, MySpace and Yammer accounts (which I do) - who the hell has time to check/update all those sites? Even with aggregation tools, it's a nightmare.

Every time I watch Twitter feeds live - I feel like I'm watching the matrix of humanity just like in the movie.

So, I've started to focus a lot of my attention on a couple of services: Twitter and Facebook. Just those two are enough for me at this point! Even then, I have a fairly large number of "friends" on Facebook - but it's nice to read the interesting status updates, browse other folks' pictures and just keep in touch with people.

There are a lot of sad moments, happy moments, silly moments and basically everything in between. I don't comment on a lot of the posts - I mainly just "lurk" - but there are some people who could just really use a bit of encouragement now and then - so I'll post a comment (or snarky remark!).

I don't know about you, but I feel a bit impotent writing "You're in our thoughts" or "You'll make it, don't worry" or some other equally dazzling comment. I mean, I really hope that person gets it worked out or that things turn around for them - or whatever - but it just feels like a store-bought card versus a hand-written one.

You never really know if what you said was even read - much less if it even helped the other person.

So, I've been sort of lax in my commenting of other people's status updates lately - but all that is going to change.

You see, this weekend I was on the receiving end of those comments - when Brenda went into the hospital with a heart attack scare (she's fine - heart is OK). Beyond the incredible support of our family (shout out to Theresa, Julie and my mom!) - the number of caring, thoughful posts on the status updates were something that really helped me out.

In the long hours sitting and waiting (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting!) - I was able to update my status multiple times - and would find myself checking back every 10 minutes to see if anyone responded yet... and 90% of the time - someone did.

It feel really good to know that others were out there lending a sympathetic ear and offering their encouragement and support.

It was beyond just what they said (which was really encouraging) - it was the fact that they took the time to read my status update (among the 100's they have in their News Feed) - and then took the time to formulate a response.

It really made a difference to me - and was very moving.

For those of you who don't have a Facebook account yet - sign up at - and if you are on Facebook - look me up: and "add" me as a friend (there's no "acquaintance" or "some jerk" buttons, unfortunately).

Once again, I want to THANK all the Facebook folks who responded to our situation over the weekend from the bottom of my heart.

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