The following commentary is a result of my thinking and reflection about the post “We Need to Talk About This” by Beth Still. As I reflected upon the topic she put forth and began to contemplate both my online relationships, and the relationships I have with those I work with, I came to a couple realizations. These realizations are not directly related to her topic, but are a result of my thoughts regarding the differences between digital and real world relationships.
The first realization is that Social Media Cultivates a Bond amongst those who collaborate and connect with one another. Much like the brotherhood of firefighters, and the camaraderie of those who have participated in military service, people connected through Social Media share an unspoken special kinship one to another. While they may be conducting themselves in different roles they have become connected for a purpose. The outcomes they desire to achieve allow them to share visions, focus and passion with one another. They look out for one another, share with one another, and when one person shares a success everyone feels the joy of it.
The second realization is that Social Media Causes a Benefit. Those who use Social Media and those with personal relationships, such as a colleague, have probably recognized a distinct difference in how they benefit one from another. The colleague who works alongside is more easily driven to be disingenuous. Not because they don’t care, but because of what they care about. Status in the workplace, possible promotions, and reputations with others all can be a driving force that encourages a colleague to look out for their own interests, not the interests of others. People who voluntarily connect through the use of online relationships do so because they want to, not because they have to. The effort that is put forth to connect in a digital world is put forth willingly. Therefore, the communication tends to be more sincere and genuine because of the desired outcomes. They participate in dialogue and discussion to grow from each other and learn with each other, not caring about who gets the credit, but knowing that everyone involved will benefit in some way.
There are many other differing aspects of an online relationship and real life relationship, but these two realizations were the first to come to mind. Regardless of what people may see as advantages and disadvantages of either form of relationship the fact remains that technology continues to change relationships in many ways, and will continue to do so as time goes on.