As we continue moving forward in this digital world, there’s some foundational misunderstandings we are creating about this digital world. There seems to be an effort to define what happens when we engage with social media as “connecting”. We post and blog, share and follow, invite and submit. It’s a busy life, this social media that can often be so unsociable.
It’s a personal achievement when someone follows us. We are connecting. It’s a personal achievement when the stats on our site charts show an upward climb. We are connecting. It’s a personal achievement when somebody forwards our pictures and witty comments. We are connecting.
Lets establish one thing…….None of this is connecting. Sure, if you’re willing to lower the bar for connecting, if you’re ok with dropping the standard, if you don’t mind a cheap mindset as the criteria……then sure, we can call it connecting.
But, nothing is connecting about it. Do not, do not, do not drop your standard. If we actually start using shares, stats and followers to define “connections”, we’ve accepted a cultural definition of connection that settles for less and expects little as it relates to true engagement between people.
It seems that every time I’m writing lately, I have to make this disclaimer, so I’ll make it again………I’m not being cranky. I’m not just some old man refusing to get in step with the new way of living life in this wonderful world of technology. I live and breathe by the bandwidth just as much as anybody. I like my modem and I feed it daily.
But, though I may not be cranky, I am genuinely cautious. I’m not overly excited about the way we are redefining some basic anchors in our culture simply because it fits better. When you pull that anchor up from the bottom, you will either sail or drift. So, I want to make sure we don’t start drifting.
We are not connecting. We are “collecting”. Every time we add followers, each time we share and post, every time our numbers go up, we are doing much more collecting than connecting. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a testament to our ability to reach more people. But, it’s not connecting. It’s collecting.
My concern is that we will accept a lower standard for connection in the digital world. And that will affect what we expect in our classrooms between teachers and students. It could affect what we expect in our homes. It could replace true, genuine engagement between people.
I don’t have to be comfortable. More than anyone, I know this world doesn’t revolve around me and shouldn’t. But, I’m much more comfortable with this if we can just be honest.
We should stop saying that we are becoming more connected unless we are really connecting. Just because someone is listening doesn’t mean they hear us. Just because the kid is sitting in our classroom doesn’t mean they are learning. And just because someone has logged in doesn’t mean they are connecting.
I remember the days when the term, “I’m being followed”, was used in detective movies and launched great chase scenes. Or being followed was something you didn’t want to feel when you were walking down a sidewalk.
In a digital world, being followed is cool but let’s not give it so much honor that it replaces a true dynamic of actually connecting with someone. If that happens, we diminish the responsibility we should feel to engage and pay the price for authentic connection.
We are making collections. We are collecting followers and that’s a great thing. We are making contact and resonating with people. But we are not necessarily becoming a more connected world or a connected society. Let’s keep collecting but let’s further raise our expectations for true, genuine connections and engagement in our classrooms, our homes and our communities.
Just being cautious.