Making friends on the web
Lately one of my favorite things about web design and development is getting to know people in the community.
I have been fortunate to meet up with a lot of cool people, which has been enriching both professionally and personally.
In my opinion, the key is to make use of the social web to augment real experiences with real people.
A high volume of brief, miniature social interactions flood our lives each day through many mediums — tweets, text messages, emails, comments, or calls on Skype. I believe that this variety of social interactions can benefit people to an extent.
In the case of social media, there's a lot of great knowledge sharing and rapid exposure to new ideas from which we can benefit.
However, I'll admit that I've felt saturated by the massive amount of activity on sites like Twitter and Dribbble. Recently I've found myself only visiting these sites once or twice a day. Sometimes I just need to get work done.
This high volume of interactions on the web can never replace more meaningful social interactions.
These interactions existed long before smart phones and tablet devices — sharing a meal at a table, going on a long walk in the park, or taking a road trip to your favorite get-away destination — to name a few.
These interactions take more time, and can only be experienced with fewer people. While not as efficient, they can be far more effective at building relationships.
Meeting people in person
I recommend spending more time in person with people from our industry. Recently, I've learned from and interacted with a lot of talented people, and I'm getting to know these people better.
For example, a group of Dribbble players from the DFW area has been meeting up for a few months now. It's a great opportunity to converse with like-minded creative people. We share insight and ideas. We've even discussed ways that we can collaborate on a side project as a group.
Overall these times together refresh my enthusiasm for what I do.
Friendships from afar
On another note, there is a growing list of people I have gotten to know from other states or countries. Meeting together with these folks is not always feasible.
This is where I have to look for the opportunity to travel.
For that reason I hope to make it out to SXSW in March. I look forward to the chance to meet even more folks in the design community with whom I've only been able to engage on the web.
Remembering the purpose
Twitter was created so that a guy could keep up with his friends. Once it exploded, we learned to keep up with people who weren't our friends.
But then, some of these people started becoming our friends.
Personally, I'm glad to find the balance and purpose with the social web. It should be a tool to improve our connections to each other, not to hinder them.
What are your thoughts on the changing nature of social interactions? I would appreciate a comment or an email.
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