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We Probably Wouldn’t Be Friends in Real Life

In the shadow of the tragic suicides that have occurred recently as a result of social media, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of how powerful the platform is.

Before I delve into my thoughts on this, I want to give a plug to something @RLMadMan is doing.  Wednesday night there will be a Twitter Town Hall meeting hosted by @RLMadMan called #SMS – Suicide Must Stop.  I’m going to be there and I hope that you will consider joining the discussion.

For me social media, and Twitter in particular, has been wonderful.  I have learned so much.  I have met so many wonderful people, and feel that I am supported, entertained, instructed and connected in a healthy and productive way.  Beyond that, I feel as though I have been able to connect with people who I would never have access to in real life; for reasons of geography, age, race, and profession.  In many cases, my path simply would not cross the path of the people I have met on Twitter.  Twitter makes it possible.  It’s really remarkable when you think about it.

There is a lot of talk in social media circles about being your authentic self.  There are many facets to any particular self and as a result my Twitter group is made up of a lot of diverse people.

Through some tweets on sports, I became friends with a young black man who is a college student.  We’ve talked, one on one,  about Reggie Bush giving back the Heisman, the return of Michael Vick, Favre (I don’t like him, my buddy does), college football and from there the discussion has gone to school, how to make each day better than the last.  We would never be friends in real life.  I’m sound asleep hours before he’s getting ready to go to the clubs.  I’m up in the morning before he gets home.  His afternoons are spent at school while I’m wrapping up work for my clients.   Our paths in real life simply would not have crossed; but what a blessing that we can be friends on Twitter.   Following one of our back and forth tweeting – he said “I really appreciate your wisdom and that you keep at me.”  I was very touched.  And I am so appreciative of his honesty and sharing of his life and aspirations.  I care about his life.  And, once again, it struck me how powerful this medium is.  You can actually get past your own “normal” and get to know, like and trust people that you otherwise would have never known; breaking the silos of generation, geography, race and probably a few more.

Through some tweets with an old friend and colleague, I was introduced to my now virtual intern.  During the holidays, I was able to tweet with a young, single mother with a special needs child who was at the end of her rope.

And every day, I have the brilliance, support and resources of some excellent marketing people, writers, designers who inspire me daily.  Through them I am able to deliver for my clients in ways I couldn’t imagine even six months ago.

In real life I am an introvert and somewhat reclusive.  Social media has allowed me to interact with people who, even if I got out more, I’d never have the chance to know the way I know them through Twitter – and all because of a follow here, a follow there, a chat on Saturday, a chat on Sunday.

I know that Twitter has helped me become a better person and a better friend and a better mentor.  I can’t help but believe that we can all put this to work to make the world a little less painful and a little more loving.

Your thoughts?

23 Responses to We Probably Wouldn’t Be Friends in Real Life

  1. What a beautiful and thoughtful post, Dawn. I agree, the power of Social Media can be used for so many excellent purposes. The fact that it’s subverted for nothing short of evil is so distressing. Here’s to hoping we can turn it around.

    Thanks so much for your highlighting of the town hall meeting. I really appreciate that!

    • Dawn says:

      Margie – I hope that through opportunities like #SMS we can be the stones tossed into the pond that create the positive ripples. It breaks my heart that what has been so wonderful for me has been the cause of despair for others.

  2. Kenny Rose says:

    Hi Dawn

    I just want to say that was a beautiful post. Honestly, I am not sure why I joined twitter. It is a mix of reasons. I will not go into that now. What I do not want to say is it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made. I would not have come across inspiring stories such as the ones in your post and for that I am extremely grateful.

    Thank you for sharing and giving.

    All the best Kenny

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you so much Kenny. I do believe that one by one, by reaching out and being just who we are – this can be revolutionary in the right way. Your words mean so much. Thank you.

  3. Excellent work Dawn, some really great food for thought here

  4. […] A beautiful post from @DWesterberg titled “We probably wouldn’t be friends in real life.” How many people have you met via Social Media that you probably would never have met […]

  5. Kat Caverly says:

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt post. I so relate; how powerfully Twitter enables me to interact with people I would never meet, or never befriend in other areas of my life. Twitter has made me a better person because I made a promise (to myself) to be tweet positivity and the side-effects have been extraordinary.

  6. Dian Reid says:

    I couldn’t help but nod my head … introvert … never have the chance to know them … a follow here … a chat [there]. I, too, think that social media is an amazing tool for the brilliance, the support, the resources we seek in our lives.

    I landed here via an RT of an RT of an RT, I believe and am so glad I did. Thanks for sharing your self.

    • Dawn says:

      Dian – thanks for stopping by and for your comment. There are many people who I interact with today and with most I have no idea how they came onto my Twitter radar. Isn’t it amazing how a few RTs connect us!

  7. Carl Thress says:

    What a beautiful post. As a fellow introvert, Twitter has been a godsend. I’ve met some pretty amazing new people and reconnected with others from my past who had drifted away. That’s the true power of social media for me.

  8. Bret Simmons says:

    I too consider myself an introvert. I am much more personal than I am social. Twitter and my blog have been great ways for me to meet new people, but I find when I show up at events it is still VERY difficult to connect with people in person. In person, people are not always as warm and welcoming as they seem on Twitter. Some are downright cold, even though they “know” me from online. I’m still chewing on what this means for me and how I should respond…. Thanks! Bret

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Bret, I’ve been lucky in that the people I have subsequently met IRL are like old friend. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

  9. Gaga says:

    Dawn,
    I wouldn’t know you, Dawn or Margie Clayman and a British Twitter friend named Stan, with that famous sense of humor that said after my fall from the attic “Why Gaga of course I read about it in the London Times” if it weren’t for Twitter. But Dawn I know the sickening feeling of a very aggressive person that targeted me for no reason and I had to block them. There’s no way to describe that sick feeling when it comes out of nowhere. So I think if people are in a fragile state and are attacked by a stranger it can be very damaging. I had a great support group and Margie said just block them immediately. But all in all Twitter has been the most wonderful experience and continues to be uplifting and rewarding. I am so glad I met you Dawn and so many others!
    Gaga

    • Dawn says:

      Gaga – Thank you for your comment. I agree with the advice to block someone if they are being aggressive and mean. And, you’re right, it’s an bad feeling to be the target of unwarranted anger. I’m glad that for the most part it’s been a great experience and I’m very glad we met.

  10. […] We probably wouldn’t be friends in real life, by Dawn Westerberg. I love this post, still, and I hope it resonates with you as much as it did […]

  11. Rob Collins says:

    Dawn-
    Excellent post. Twitter became powerful for me the day I got a reply from someone I didn’t know but who was offering help. That was the day Twitter went from a fad to a real marketing resource for me.
    One memorable encounter I had was with a CMO of a major company who replied to me and offered to help with something I was working on. We have never met or spoken on the phone. He had absolutely NOTHING to gain from his interaction with me. But I will never forget it.
    It is extraordinary and I’ve tried to ‘pay it forward’ in the same manner.
    You are correct that the nature of Twitter allows us to take down the barriers — and it many cases, it reveals a goodness about humanity that is heartwarming.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Dawn says:

      It’s always good to hear that it’s not just me! And I love your commitment to paying it forward – I try to do that as well. Thank you very much for sharing your comment.

  12. Traci Browne says:

    Wow Dawn, all I can say is “Yeah, what Dawn said.”
    Often times when talking to people about how great twitter has been for me I mention the people I’ve come to know and then actually had the opportunity to meet in real life. While that is truly wonderful, I am reminded by you, you can have wonderful relationships with people, started via twitter, that you may never meet in real life. And that is OK too.
    You are a constant inspiration to me. Your post are always so thoughtful and smart. You have given me excellent advice on vacuum cleaners and now just today, a great book recommendation. While I hope we do get to meet in person one day, I’m very grateful for what we have now…and will start talking more about the wonderful benefits of these relationships too!

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you for the wonderful comment! I am daily amazed at the great stuff I get from Twitter. And I am always glad to see your avatar in my stream!

  13. […] media is about having the ability to influence and engage with others. @DawnWesterberg wrote a great post about the ability of SM to connect you to those who you would never connect with in real life and […]

  14. […] that were caused by online bullying. Dawn notes that without the online world, she would not have met or stayed in touch with a lot of people. It’s hard to meet people from around the world in real life, after […]

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