Breaking my I don't go out on school nights rule, last night I attended a mixer hosted by the Alabama Social Media Association (ALsocme). At one point during the "tweetup" guests were asked to pull out their cell phones to "check in" on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. As we all pulled out our gadgets to comply it was exciting and surreal. If you're not into social media I'm sure this just makes us all sound like absolute geeks, but hear me out. No announcement like that would have occurred at a happy hour 10 or 5 years ago. Perhaps not even one year ago. That moment was such a perfect example of how technology has changed our social lives in nearly every way and shows why I believe the ALsocme slogan, "The revolution will be tweeted" is so true.
At least once a year we get a series of stories from news outlets around the country about the evils of Facebook, Twitter, and the like. And these stories are usually focused on how these social media tools are ruining our relationships and thus destroying our lives. But for many of us, I would even venture to say most of us, Facebook and Twitter have helped us reconnect with old buddies from college and keep in touch with long-distance pals. And that's just scratching the surface.
At last night's mixer I hugged and chatted with several women who feel like close friends even though before last night I'd never met them face-to-face. But I'd met them through social media networks and I got to know them, their dreams, their passions, their favorite movies and musicians through Facebook, Twitter, email messages and blogs. Social media tools are not ruining my social life. They're simply transforming it in a way I could have never imagined.
One of my resolutions for 2011 was to be more intentional in my relationships. This means scheduling regular dinner dates with my best gal pals who live in Birmingham and phone dates with my girls who live elsewhere. This means spending quality time with my family, too, on a regular basis and not just on holidays.
After last night's gathering, however, I resolved to be more intentional about my social media relationships as well. But what does that look like? Honestly, I haven't completely figured that out yet. But I do know that I'm going to focus less on promoting and more on connecting. And I know I will make an effort to make every comment encouraging, every post purposeful, and update uplifting. Sure, I know I won't live up to this always, but my hope is that, much like technology, each day I'll work out the kinks and get better with time.