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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Social Networks

So I'm on Facebook, Twitter and some of those other "social networking" sights. People friend me, tweet me, link me, etc. Some of them I know. Some of them I am familiar with. Some of them I would call "friend."

But I notice something as I scroll down the list of them on each of these sites. The thing I notice is that I am not in a relationship with most of them.

What are we supposed to do with that? God created us to be relational. I don't think He created us to be networked or linked. That's not relational.

Following someone on Twitter isn't like knowing them. One of the guys that follows me on Twitter is "following" literally thousands of people. How could anyone really do that?

Let's face it, he won't actually follow me. He just has electronic feeds from thousands of people. Those feeds bring him any updates that those people publish. But with hundreds or thousands of updates a day or even per week - he's probably not reading most of them. Folks, he's in denial. He's not following me at all!

As I scroll down my list on Facebook, for example, I am also struck with a wave of sadness. There are people on there whom I admire a great deal. I would like to know them. I wish they were my intimate friend. If I could wave a magic wand and make the world different, there'd be time and intent between us to develop a deep friendship.

So what then is social networking? We got into a deep discussion at work today, as the bank looks for ways to mine business value from social networks. Many businesses believe they can. If a business can mine financial value from a social networking site, are those the same dynamics that can enrich my life or yours? What is the real, practical and tangible value that you and I can expect from them?

I suppose I'll continue to get into the social networking scene. It's almost as if you're absence would be more noticeable than your presence. But I have to admit that I'm wandering around these sites any more, wondering where the value is. I mean ... why am I out here?

Perhaps we could create a site where I reach out to you and instead of "friending" or "tweeting" or "following" you, I could simply say something like, "Hey, I have admired you for a long time and would cherish a deep friendship with you. Can we be intentional about pursuing that together?"

But I suppose we couldn't call it a social network. Instead, we'd have to call it a relational network. Now where can I find some of those to join?

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