This past weekend I attended a little meetup at Lake Conestee. thanks to meetup.com. As I was going through the handful of photos I took at the park, I started to think about online social networking, and how location does affect how you network. As much as the internet and social networking has opened up the possibility of being connected to people no matter their location, sometimes location really does matter.
I look at my online relationships a number of ways. First, there are the people I’m close to, family and friends who I would stay in contact with regardless. For those folks, social networks make it a bit easier to stay up to date with each other despite our locations. Secondly, there are the folks I’ve gotten to know online because we work in the same industry or who are sharing information and tips on things I care about. The last group includes the folks who know what’s going on in your area. As I moved away from Columbus, I began to realize that I was following a whole bunch of folks mostly because they always seemed to know what was going on around town. Now I don’t live there and that information isn’t really relevant anymore, yet somehow I still feel a bit awful for dropping them from my social networks. It’s as if a tiny part of me feels like I’m rejecting them, when in fact they may very well be great people, they are just communicating about things that I’m no longer part of.Maybe I’m just too sensitive, or that Irish Catholic upbringing makes feeling guilty too easy.
On the flip side of that, I now find myself in a new area, and trying to get connected as quickly as possible. That’s why something like meetup, which I grew to disdain when I was in Columbus, for providing me with more information than I wanted, is suddenly very appealing. Now that I’m somewhat on my own out here in the wilderness, more information about what’s going on in the area, and more potential to meet new people, is helpful.
I realize that, as life moves forward, and things change, not only do the relationships you have with people change, but the relationships you have with technologies do as well. Social networks are just tools, there’s no “right” way to use them, and how you use them now may be different a year from now. As long as they are useful tools to help you connect to folks, so be it.