The Internet and Real Relationships, by Randy Mitchell

Ever since Al Gore famously invented the internet (Ha Ha), the personal information we share through our computer keyboards has exploded like the world’s arsenal of nuclear bombs firing off at once. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. have each grown at such an astonishing rate that oftentimes these websites periodically shut down for a while trying to catch up with their increased demand. We all frequently post, like, befriend, tweet and whatever else in an attempt to share and promote our opinions and viewpoints, each vying for that coveted piece of the super information highway. And there are us bloggers–the ones who really try displaying our inner emotions. According to Wikipedia, as of February 2011 there are more than 156 million public blogs in existence. My friends, that’s a bunch of fingers dancing along some plastic letter and space buttons!

When I started my social media campaign to promote my book and website, I knew absolutely nothing about how to proceed. I worked with someone who specializes in just this sort of thing, and off we went into the wild blue yonder spreading the word, that I, an unknown personality, had a story to tell and product to sell.

The blogs I write, usually every week, are now read by hundreds of people on a routine basis scattered across several websites. I know, because we all have the unique ability of seeing these numbers as they happen. It’s been lots of fun doing this, and has given me the opportunity to try something I never thought of before–the successful creation of a new, part-time career.

I would venture to guess that virtually every person reading this also has more than one social media account. It doesn’t matter where, because the fact that you have them says something on its own. You see, when you hit that “create account” button a magical thing happened: you opened your life up to the whole world to notice. Shortly afterward, you started searching for people to connect with.

At first, they were those you knew personally: family members, best friends, old college and high school classmates, co-workers, etc. Then, you started getting friends and follower requests from those you’ve never even met, more than likely looking for a professional connection. No matter the reason, suddenly and miraculously, you glance at your network numbers one day and notice you’ve added hundreds of people knowing very little about them, not to mention, never meeting them personally.

Like so many, I read other writers blogs. I really enjoy the creativity which goes behind each and every one. There’s tons of gifted talent online, and you don’t need to walk inside Barnes & Noble and buy the latest bestseller to find it. It’s out here, and at everyone’s fingertips. Sometimes, I find myself reading the comments underneath different articles. Most are appreciative and congratulatory; some are often negative and critical.

Which draws to mind: Who are these people, really: the writers and those who post? What do they actually think? What are their true beliefs? Are they only writing what looks good or popular to say, therefore appearing socially and politically correct? If you met them in person, would you actually enjoy being around them or bolt for the door screaming to yourself, “Whoa, not exactly what I expected!”

Ever since I started participating in social media, I’ve had lots of personal exchanges from those I connect with, and it’s been great. Two which come to mind are one who’s a mega-bestselling author and another that had their book made into a movie. I asked for, and they followed through with some wonderful advice. They graciously gave me their time and counsel without ever even meeting them, although I would jump at the chance.

The people we all meet through social media can be priceless, but we should all guard against replacing them with real relationships, therefore substituting bona fide flesh and blood for focused words on a screen–it kind of goes along with my opinions on replacing personal communication with texting and e-mailing, it just isn’t the same. I for one would love to have a huge party someday with each and every friend, follower, fellow blogger, and whoever else I’m connected to on the internet. To spend time with them, place a hand-in-hand, watch their mannerisms, and listen to the tone of their voices as they speak. It would be an amazing adventure to actually see and sense what brought us all together inside Al Gore’s super creation (once again, Ha Ha).

Now log on and let’s connect, I’d love to meet you!

Randy Mitchell

Mr. Mitchell lives in Dallas, Texas and has spent most of his career as a commercial airline pilot. He’s an avid blogger, movie fan, martial artist, and lover of all things Dallas Cowboys. His first romance novel, Sons in the Clouds, is currently available wherever e-books are sold.

See Randy’s website, The Inspirational Writer.
Connect on Sons in the Clouds on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Watch the Sons in the Clouds book trailer.
Books available online at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Apple I-Bookstore, and KoBo.

See Randy’s guest blog from April 26, The Balance of Happiness.

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14 Comments

Filed under Branding & Platform, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

14 responses to “The Internet and Real Relationships, by Randy Mitchell

  1. What a wonderful idea – I love imagining actually meeting these people whose posts we read by the light of our computer. I agree – there is so much creativity and GOOD writing out there at our finger tips – no visit to the bookstore needed (although, of course, we all still visit our local bookstore, right??!). Thanks for writing this.

  2. Thanks for your comments here. Yes, I’d love for all of us to have one huge party!

  3. Fantastic article, Randy. Hmmm I wonder who taught you all about social media – could it be your red carpet publicist, perhaps? 🙂 All kidding aside, I would love to meet face-to-face with people I’ve connected with online and it goes back to forming authentic, real relationships. I did a clean sweep of my social media and connections recently and I’m all about connecting with REAL people. 🙂 Great job, Randy, and keep up the good work. I’m proud of you! 🙂

    • Thank you, Vinogirl. And for all interested in who my red carpet publicist is, I’m proud to say her name is Therese Pope of Zenful Communications! Karen, a long stretch of beach along Hawaii’s Kona Coast comes to mind!

  4. karenselliott

    I think it would take more than just a party – we all might need a week-long retreat!

  5. karenselliott

    Ah! Therese Pope – a fabulous, honest, and imaginative business person!

  6. You are so right, Randy…we can’t replace real friends with social media. I find many young people unable to communicate face to face because of their texting and other media habits. Good thoughts!
    MakingTheWriteConnections

  7. karenselliott

    I so agree. For about a year and half (in my new town), I felt cut-off from people who wanted to talk books, writing, blogging, publishing. I have recently met a few people – right here in Minot! – and we have informally started a writers/coffee drinkers club. In just one meeting, I feel refreshed! Talking to people about books and writing in person has been fabulous. Not that I feel any differently about all the fab online friends I have. But the face time. So valuable!

  8. This is such an important reminder, Randy. I cherish some of the online friendships I’ve made with folks I’ve never met in person (Karen S. Elliott is one of them!), but the in-person relationships are crucial, and too often we get distracted from them by spending too much staring at our iPhones, iPads, etc.

  9. karenselliott

    I agree, Elizabeth. I have some fabulous on-line relationships with you and numerous others – we know when something’s “not right” just by the posts or lack thereof; we consult and brainstorm, we get each other. While on-line can be great, face-to-face must be maintained as well to keep the “human” in it!

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