I’ve been having several conversations lately around the effort of linking our online and offline lives in a significant, meaningful way. And my friend David Burn over at AdPulp has been adding fuel to that fire with two recent posts.
The first post is about fiction Edan Lepucki, a writer and instructor who decided to unplug from social media sites for three months – or “detox” as she called it. The entire article is a MUST read. Here are some of my favorite tidbits:
The problem with Facebook and Twitter, I’ve realized, is that the Christmas stocking is infinite, and infinitely full. There is always another piece of candy to claw at. One piece is delicious, but one begets two, and three, and four, and, okay, five…it’s not long before you’ve made yourself sick.
It saddened me to see all these people, chained to their online lives, posting flattering photos of themselves, “liking” a funny status update, posting or retweeting a link. It’s a never-ending race to remind others that we’re here, that we exist.
In my mind, [Twitter is] a crowded elevator where everyone’s talking over one another. They’re all saying interesting things, but who can keep track?
Like I said, you have to go to The Millions and read the full article.
Have you ever exchanged tweets and Facebook emails/postings with someone for many, many months and then meet them in real life and they are completely different from their online persona? Remember back in the days when AIM was brand new but you never really knew who was on the other end of that computer? They could be who they say they are, or they could have been a different age, gender and location than they said. There was a certain anonymous feel to it. They (or you) could be anyone you want.
Enter the age of digital social communications. Now you have pictures and profiles and everything else across multiple sites – but you still can basically be anything and anyone you want. You can easily convince people you know what you’re talking about – even if you have no clue. You just have to sound smart and inundate people with your tweets/status updates/thoughts – and the sheep will follow. People are building – dare I say “fake” lives and personas online and then doing their best to live up to them offline. Like Edaan wrote, they post only flattering pictures of themselves and really think about that next tweet – because they have absolute control over their online lives (or at least the illusion of it).
“What’s happened to community?” I love this line. Our since of community has not only evolved, but I’ll argue that it’s become warped. What IS community? And were our communities closer before social media? These are things I’m pondering these days. We have to bridge the gap between online and offline. Because we’re all in danger in buying into the pseudo-world of an exclusively online life.
Is this the beginning of a backlash? Of a mass unplugging? Part of me hopes so. But the reality is that companies that delete the seams between on and offline will be the ones who win. And it’s now a race to get there.