Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Trust Bridges and House Parties

Tools come, but they aren't necessarily used in the way they were intended. Users invent uses. Useful uses spread. The main social media tools I use are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog and Instagram (kind of). Each of them serve slightly different purposes. I always only connected with people I actually know in person on Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn for colleagues and clients. Facebook for everybody else. With a big overlap.

I am a fairly recent convert to Twitter even though I have been on it since 2009. I only started understanding how I could use it in a way I enjoyed in 2014. Now I love it. The key difference from Facebook is that I can follow people I don't know. I can meet people I don't know. I consider following someone on Twitter analogous to putting my hand out to meet them, and saying 'Hi, my name is Trev. You look interesting'. It is much easier to do that in a virtual world than in the real world. Unless you are at a house party, a speed dating event or something specifically designed to meet people, just introducing yourself takes a lot of guts.

Unless you have the trust bridge of a mutual friend introducing you, there is always the question of what your motive is. With Twitter, I can look at someone's intro, a few of their tweets, and I normally discover them via people I already find interesting. The great thing about the 'virtual hand shake' introduction is it doesn't matter all that much if they don't return the handshake. There isn't the punch to the stomach of a real world equivalent to being 'left hanging'.

The problem is, a lot of people don't get Twitter. Many who are on it use it as a Broadcast mechanism for their ideas, rather than as a conversation. The 'follow' idea isn't useful. It makes it sound like connecting in that way is somehow elevating the person. Maybe the word will change one day, but it is a wonderful place to connect to new people with new ideas. It is an unfiltered filter of conversation. You can consciously craft a way to burst your bubble where all you hear and experience is with people you know. I have a bunch of lists I use to actively make sure I am looking at what people who are not 'like me' are saying.

More people get Facebook. It started with photos of friends and connecting to people we already knew. I definitely get the feeling it is evolving into more interesting conversations. What I would like to see is whether it can start breaking down bubbles in the way that Twitter can. The challenge with Twitter is that a lot of interesting people stop looking at who is sticking out their hand. They stop following people back. So new people join Twitter and it ends up being an echo chamber. It seems like they are just sending an 'sms to the world' with no one seeing it. Winking in the dark.

It would be great if Facebook became more like house parties. If there were more introductions. If you are happy for me to introduce you to people, please let me know. I am going to start actively making more introductions. If you know people who you think I should meet, please introduce me.  We aren't going to burst our bubbles by accident. We need to bump them into each other consciously so that they grow.

We are more interesting together.

We need to Burst our Bubbles

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