It seems to me that these days there’s a whole lot of connecting going on. By now you understand that as a shallow person I don’t like to judge or make pronouncements about what’s good or bad, right or wrong. But there are simply times when something needs to be said and while I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade or seem like the proverbial party pooper, I am beginning to think that this whole social media “get together” thing is just a tad overrated and perhaps, getting a little out of hand. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m probably as connected as the next person (provided the “next person” isn’t your average 18 to 24 year old with 510 “FB friends”), with active accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and yes, even Twitter. To tell the truth, there’s nothing I like more than sitting in my chair, looking at pictures of my friends’ travels to exotic places like Africa about two minutes after they take them, which sure beats having to sit through those interminably tedious “vacation travelogues” where the world travellers struggle to remember which lake provided the backdrop to the “most beautiful sunset they had ever seen” or whether the magnificent stained glass windows were in St. Pauls or Westminster Cathedrals, or possibly taken during a previous trip to Mexico. Besides, there’s nothing better than engaging in an online, challenging game of WWF with one of my “real” friends. Not to mention that I always post this blog to my FB page. So I guess I get Facebook.
But then there’s LinkedIn which is a horse of an entirely different colour and from where I sit, one of the busiest sites on the WWW. I’m on it but unlike Facebook, I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing there. From what I understand this is supposed to be a more “professional” oriented social media space where I get to showcase the talents I have acquired over the many, many, (do I need to add another one of those?) years I have been working. Once I do that I “link” (get it) with others who, apparently, do something similar to what I do during my working days. They in turn link with others and together we grow a long list of people we know or, more accurately, might know. After that I can’t say I can tell you what happens because so far, nothing really has. Unless of course you think that having people who have a rather spurious knowledge of your accomplishments endorse the skills that you have attributed to, you guessed it, yourself, is something. I’m not sure that it is and yet I am there, with you, checking out your connections and, on occasion even endorsing your skills. Which is ok with me because, when push comes to shove, it’s not really all that intrusive and I can do all this from the comfort of (have I mentioned it?) my chair.
This may not be the case once a new technology I just read about gets off the ground because it takes connecting to a whole new level. Before I get into it I should tell you that I have pretty much perfected the art of making myself invisible in a crowd which, in my estimation at least, is a skill that I can legitimately be endorsed for. In fact, I’m so good at it that I can actually attend a five day, in person conference without anyone knowing I was ever there which is why this new app sends veritable shivers down my spine. What it purports to do is allow you to figure out which of your connections (yes your “friends” and “links” and probably your “twits” too) are actually in the room at the same time as you are. You heard me! No more hiding in the farthest corner or sprinting to the nearest exit when someone you really didn’t want to see comes your way. Mastering the art of, what I like to call, “eye contact avoidance” isn’t going to get you anywhere. There’s no getting away from them now. Those virtual friends of yours will be connecting with you in real time and real space because that app is going to let them know you are there. But what seems odd to me about this “whole new thing” is that if I had wanted to connect with someone I likely would have contacted them ahead of time and made arrangements to meet. And if I didn’t do that, well you get my point.
Next week Wade and I are off to St. Louis to speak at an eLearning conference. Funny story. We were walking down the streets of Denver trying to figure out where we were and this lovely, young woman approached us and offered to let us use her phone. After some chit chat she decided to join us for the evening’s activities. Turns out she organizes a conference for a group of eLearning professionals in Missouri and, after a while, mentioned that she would be needing some speakers at their upcoming event. Now we are on our way. And that, my friends, is what I call a great connection!