One of the concerns that people have about the internet is that it’s creating less face-to-face communication. That may be true, but my experience has been the opposite. Here are three quick examples:
The social minister
A number of years ago when I worked at Mt. Bethel, one of the ministers on staff at the time decided to “friend” everyone in the church on Facebook. Some declined his invitation, but a couple thousand accepted. He quickly found that he was spending a lot of time on there, but two other things happened:
- His email inbox got a bit lighter, as people could reach out to him directly on Facebook.
- He knew a lot more about people when he saw them on Sunday mornings. Instead of just “Good morning, Sally”, it became “Good morning, Sally. How is your mother doing?”. It made a huge difference and greatly enhanced his face-to-face relationships with the congregation.
We’re big fans of local Meetups. It’s not only a great way to learn about a topic that you’re interested in, but you’ll meet lots of people with similar interests as yours. We host our own monthly Meetup and attend a variety of others. Off the top of my head, I’m sure I would have never met Kathy, Brad, Jason, Tom, Miller, Diana, Will, Renee or dozens of others (including our own Chantelle) if it hadn’t been for local Meetups.
I strongly encourage you to head over to the main Meetup site and search for interesting groups in your area.
A few years ago there was a major snowstorm here in Atlanta and our schools (and roads) were closed for a solid week. Because we gotten to know our neighbors via Facebook, we organized activities and meals to help keep everyone from getting bored.
Without Facebook, we likely would have toughed it out on our own rather than come together as a community.
In all three cases above, I attribute social media to creating significant enhancements in our face-to-face communication. There are certainly people that hide behind the computer instead of going out into the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your online social networks to improve your offline social networks.
Going further, Lifehacker recently posted an article that offers even more tips on using the web to meet people in your area.
What ways have you used the internet to enhance your local relationships?