The other day I had a conversation with one of the most influential thought leaders in business, and I had it while waiting for my gyro.
I witnessed someone turn hundreds of photographs from people he didn't know into a beautiful short film.
I interviewed one of my favorite authors and received valuable (if quite short) life advice.
Friends became my tour guides of New York City, Atlanta, and Austin, all from the comfort of their couch.
All of this had nothing to do with my connections or social savvy, but with my social media network, that great web of connections that can be so powerful, even while it's so immaterial.
The power of social networks is hard to wrangle, which also means it has the potential to be empowering and devastating. It connects us frequently and easily, but that same tether can drag us down a slippery slide.
When you enter a social circle (online or offline) as a passive onlooker, you are courting disaster. You look on at the beautiful, interesting, more famous than you people and can't help but compare yourself to them. Insufficiency and jealousy rear their ugly heads. But social networls are worse, because these perfectly photographed, oh-so witty people are people you actually know, they are your peers. They are rocking at life, and you're not, and so you pull away even more. Back to your corner you go while the cool kids keep having fun. (By the way, that's all BS).
But if you enter social networks with an intent to create (connections, collaborations, shared experiences) then you are using it, not letting it use you. You are participating, you are adding value, you are the celebrity.
Think of your social networks as parties: when do you have most fun at a party, when you try to connect with someone new, maybe hang out with good friends, or when you stay in your corner, surrounded by a bunch of noise that makes you feel even more alone...
Hundreds of people are out there right now sharing their reality, hoping to create and connect. Facebook is not a tabloid, Twitter is not a soap box. They are opportunities to keep great conversations going.