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Social media going full circle

by Bruno Deshayes on 24 Nov 2016 permalink
Once upon a time you would subscribe to social media to re-connect with former co-workers, distant family members etc... in the hope of keeping the relationship alive by sharing photos and other snippets of life.

Well, now you can use social media to meet complete strangers face to face! Of course people addicted to dating sites do that all the time - but I am talking about leveraging an interesting tool to widen your horizon. MeetUp allows people to create and advertise an interest group. 3 years ago all activity seemed to be in the US. Today I found some 500+ groups in Sydney alone! What a parabolic growth!

What is refreshing about this phenomenon is that face to face contact is so much richer than online encounters. People can easily project a persona in cyberspace and they can fool you pretending to be someone they are not. I am talking about all those self-appointed marketing experts who shamelessly peddle yesterday's ideas - knowing full-well that reality has moved on.

When you are across a coffee table with somebody, you have to keep eye contact and pay attention. They share something and then it is your time to talk. You just can't press the back button and click on the next entry on your search results! You have to devote your full attention to you interlocutor or else come across as a jerk.

I have sifted through several types of groups: social groups organising activities such as sport, movie-going, bushwalking, music performances, etc... There is definitively a need for people to get a chance to re-connect after divorce, moving to a new city or other life upheavals. Other groups cater for expats or those who seek native speakers to learn a new language and culture.

Finally there are the business groups. Not everyone is a member of your local chamber of commerce or professional association. As technology and markets evolve constantly, everybody is facing the onslaught of the global village. Some international heavyweight is sure to invade your patch at some point of time. Small business owners working from home constantly need to be plugged into the grapevine and extend their sphere of influence.

With the constant decline of the printed press, companies and organisations find this an appropriate channel to advertise their cause by calling you to their cocktail parties.

So - yes, social media has gone full circle. We are human beings filled with emotions, choices and interests. We do not want to be cyberpunks spied upon by marketing trawlers. We want to be validated in our opinions and we have to re-learn how to pay attention to strangers one on one.

Paul Szilard says:
I couldn't agree more. You certainly have a gift in writing, and I think you ought to explore the possibility to get some of your articles published in the appropriate journals - and get paid for it. Well written and poignant.



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Bruno Deshayes

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