We live as cells of a giant body: the society. We have rules to manage this body, rules we learn very young. The whole giant structure is sustained by an invisible yet so powerful web of rules about when, how and why we interact with each other. Relationships.
I think the first rules of real life relationships are learned around the age of 3. After that age we know how to act and react in order to integrate in the society at the very basic level. Of course, after that comes school, job and other social interaction games that we learn along the way. But the core is learned at a very young age and so we act almost unconsciously when it comes to real life relationships.
But the last 10 years of history created another layer of relationships, on top of the traditional way of interacting, a layer powered by the online revolution. Right now most of our relationships have a strong online component. Either we met somebody online, either we keep interacting with somebody exclusively online, fact is a larger part of our relationships pool is now over the web. World Wide Web.
My approach with what we call social networking was a little slower. Although I had my share of enthusiasm and hype toward every major social networking service, I haven’t had the time, nor the curiosity to go deeper. I only started to immerse myself deeply in this new web only several months ago. And what I found there really surprised me. In this post I’ll share with you the differences I found between social networking (as in digital social networking) and real life relationships.
One of the first differences I noticed was the higher degree of consistency needed inÂ social networking. One must be very strict about his identity and message in order to gain some attention. If you present yourself with an image of a blogger, you should closely stick to this identity. If you chose to be a environmental activist, by all means, stick to it.
If your presence is not consistently reinforced your identity will weaken. The only thing by which you are known is what you say and do about yourself. That will also ignite what others are saying about you, but the first spark is always you. If you change course just a little bit, your identity will be skewed.
In the real life you don’t have to do that. As long as you correctly channel your change, people will know about you. For instance, if you change your job and announce all your friends, they’ll know you’re doing something different now, but it is still you. You don’t lose identity if you change your message. The real life rules are strong enough to keep your identity solid.
Social networking is still a fragile medium, the rules are to a minimum level. This is why this medium is still so vulnerable to various infectious factors, like identity theft. In a space with loose rules you have to be the strong factor, hence consistently push your identity until you create what you want.