Chris Brogan writes me an email letter at least once a week. I look forward to his letters. They are personal. They are intimate. It’s like we are having coffee together, chatting. The way it’s supposed to be. You have to subscribe to receive his letters. They are not retweetable. That’s not their purpose. They are communication. And he invites a response.
I like that. A lot. It makes a difference to me. Because communication is the hallmark of humanity. And Chris Brogan is all about bringing human into everything we do.
His letter to me this Sunday is titled: “What Does Day One Look Like?” He focuses on what it would be like if he were to start over, like many of us engaging in social media. From square one. No umpteen bazillion Twitter followers. A blank slate. His letter focuses on his taking a break from Twitterland as well, to determine its effects… or not. His letter to me this Sunday inspired me to write back to him, as well. Here’s an excerpt of my letter to him:
The phrase “perception is reality” rings in my ears. I mean, if perception is reality, are we what we tweet? Yikes! It makes me recall one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Merton, from his Seven Story Mountain, that goes:
“The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else’s imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!”
With the tsunami of information available to anyone, including scientists whose research depends on awareness of who is doing what and had which type of results, we simply can’t get to all of it. So we rely on others, perhaps our trusted advisors, to be our filters. So we entrust others with forming our perception of reality. Which kind of scares me. We just can’t get to all the information that’s out there, can we? So people subscribe to blogs. They decide to “collect” people via Twitter, to filter their perception of reality. Some people collect people because it’s a status person, whatever.
Starting out on social media is a scary but important truth of today’s business universe. What isn’t scary, and what is more important, is the type of person you are. Because that reality must ring true in all that you do. Not sure whether people take the time to do this – figure out who they are, what are their core values, what defines them as a person and a professional. That’s the hallmark of our collective humanity. Starting out, there is some constant message, like a beacon on a personal horizon, that you / me / we are constantly sending out, inviting folks to listen and respond. That message strikes a chord inside us, resonates and makes us send back our own beam as well, as if to say, I am here, too.
It’s difficult to keep up with oneself on social media, isn’t it? There’s an obligation for people to “be” their persona. It’s overwhelming to remain objective about who we are while continuing to send out that beacon that seems to attract people traversing the waters. You have an interesting Twitter experiment going. If we all stopped using Twitter for a week, would we miss it? Would we offer fresh insights? Would we stop being who we are? Would anyone really care that we weren’t there on their Twitter feed anymore? Is anyone really out there for us?
I don’t feel Twitter is the hallmark of humanity. At least not yet. And I hope never. It’s still about that interface which is achieved by taking more than 140 characters to tell someone that how they see the world makes a difference in ours.