Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Five Ways To Discover the "Social" in Social Media

I'm lonesome.  This morning I woke up to thirty messages in my e-mail inbox and not one of them was from a real person.  At least not directly. 

It's my fault.  In some kind of a crazed feeding frenzy, I signed up for each of those messages at one time or another.  But instead of appeasing my appetite, they've just made me hungrier. Why? Maybe it's because they don't have what I'm really hungry for. 

I'm hungry for the social, but I'm only finding the media. 

I'm beginning to realize that social media only provides the kind of interaction I might find by myself at a bar in a strange town.  The bar is full of interesting people, for sure, but the noise level is so high, and the smell of stale alcohol so strong, that I can't really focus on any one person and get to know them in a meaningful way.

When I do start a conversation, I often discover the person at the other end of the interaction is only there to hook up with someone for the evening.  Their immediate, baser personal hungers are driving the relationship. 

Whoa.  Wait a minute.  I'm there for the same reason.  No wonder I'm not finding my hunger satisfied in this place.

So where do I go from here?  How do I extract myself from this stinky bar and find real relationships with real people?  

Here's a plan, a quick "to do" list.  I'm not promising anyone, including myself, that it's going to work any better than my New Year's resolutions do.  But at least it's a start.

I will:

1.  Unsubscribe from impersonal sites.  Leave only connections directly related to people I have met face-to-face or at least communicated personally with via some kind of electronic avenue.

2.  Communicate personally with those I leave on my subscription list.  Comment on their posts, or tweet to them, or e-mail, always with something significant and specific to say about their messages.

3.  Tweet meaningfully. I will send a personal tweet message to everyone who "follows" me on Twitter, asking them to explain why they followed and and give me some personal information. I've actually already begun doing this and it's revealing.  The responses I get are fascinating, and if I don't get a personal response, with a tidbit of personal information in it, I don't follow back.  

4.  Forget about Marketing.  Yes, I mean that.  I need to give up the idea of promoting my book on social media.  If people discover Zinovy's Journey through my social media connections, it will have to be a natural and unpremeditated occurrence.

5.  Pray that God will direct my steps.  I will trust the Holy Spirit to be my social secretary.  I will make sure my spirit is in tune with the Spirit of Jesus, and then I will interact, personally and honestly, only with connections I feel drawn to.

Already I'm struggling with this process.  I just went to my inbox and successfully unsubscribed from three connections, but then I got to my daily Twitter message, telling me who I might like to follow, and ended up signing on to yet another irresistible blog. 

Sigh.  Three steps forward and one backward.  But I did comment on that blog post, and it felt a lot more satisfying than simply signing up. And I'm not giving up on this idea. I'm going to plug away at the process, living and learning, looking for meaningful relationships in the maze of social media.

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