Social, Networking, and Social Networking

I spent much of the latter part of 2008 committing my time to two popular social networks, Twitter and Facebook. While having somewhat different goals for each, I mainly ignored their differences out of what you might consider laziness and mostly treated them the same. I even installed the Twitter application on Facebook to have all my tweets sent over to Facebook, which I guess wasn’t always relevant to my Facebook friends and vice versa.

After finally heading out for more ideas about using Twitter, I ended up at the blog TwiTip and ultimately at the post Twitter vs. Facebook. While most of the post was not new to me (although there was some interesting comparisons made), it was sort of the splash of cold water on my face that I needed to get me to realize, and treat, these two apps differently.
The Social
Signing up at Facebook was more about being social with current friends, connecting with maybe one or two of the few from the past, and not so much about finding new friends.  I’m not doing too much on Facebook to network or promote any of my work online, and I’m okay with that. I realize there are some opprotunities out there to spread the word on my life online, and to some extent, it has brought some awareness to friends already in my inner circle about just how much I do online.  Sure, there’s a few jokes here and there, but I think it has brought about some sort of respect for my committment and knowledge of this little thing called the Web.
The Networking
By somewhat stark contrast, my use of Twitter has been mainly to meet new individuals out there with similar interests, goals, and habits online. Those interactions have been the more traditional sense of networking, in regards to exchanging information, samples of each other’s works, goals, and strategies. While less personal than Facebook, I think this use of Twitter has offered examples of my work online to a further reach than just amongst my existing “real life” friends.
Different Sets of Friends
Interesting enough, but by no means surprising, I’ve ended up with different sets of friends at each of these online destinations. I already mentioned that my group of Facebook friends are essentially people in my life everyday, co-workers (past and present) and folks I’ve become friends with over the different parts of my life.  My Twitter circle, on the other hand, largely consists of people in Hawaii, of all places.
The Hawaii part makes sense, though, because many of my waking hours for the last few years have been spent dreaming of Maui (at least when we’re not actually there). My wife and I have talked about, and I have somewhat planned for, what life would be like in the next few years actually relocating to the Aloha State, and what types of changes that would need to bring about.
So in some sense of the meaning, the networking I do on Twitter with folks in Hawaii is all about learning what life is like there, making contacts, getting advice, and building a group of future “real life” (aka Facebook) friends should we bite the bullet and make the move 4,000 miles West. There is also a more immediate benefit to the networking I do on Twitter, and that is promoting my own Maui website. While there is no current (or likely ever) monetary focus put on traffic to my Maui site, I really enjoy the community and the interactions with our site’s readers as well as participating in the communities found on their own Hawaii/Maui blogs.
No Crossovers
Since I work in a technology field, and many of my Facebook friends are co-workers, you think I’d have more tweeps spanning both of my networks.  But the fact is, at the moment, I don’t.  You might also be of the opinion that Twitter is still techie-only (aside from the spammers) and that normal, everyday people haven’t adopted it yet. But again, the fact is that quite a few of my tweeps have never written a line of HTML or JavaScript in their lives.
For now at least, it doesn’t seem that any of my Facebook friends will be jumping on the Twitter bandwagon anytime soon. I’m kind of okay with that, although having a few IRL friends as tweeps might make it feel a little less lonely sometimes when I read about tweetups and local events in Hawaii that, for the time being, I can only bear witness to from afar. Someday…
What about “Social Networking”
I guess one subtle point in this post (somewhere) is that I haven’t really found a happy medium between both the Social and the Networking aspects of my time spent online. I guess if I was more political at work and had the desire to keep in touch with the vast number of past co-workers I’ve had over the years (something along the lines of LinkedIn), maybe there would be more usefulness of combining both. At least at this point in my life (and career), I haven’t had the need to play those social games just to get something back in return. Maybe others might think I do that already, but honestly it’s not something I have doing consciously.
So I get back to it, is there really a place (in my life at least) to blend both aspects into a true concept of Social Networking? The closet thing I can think of right now would be in a few years if/when we take the plunge and move to Maui. By doing so, many of my current tweeps become my friends in real life, and a la Facebook. And then what?  Who would I tweet with, then?

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About Kris

Programming since age 14, professional software engineer Kris Nelson practices his life motto of "Never stop learning" by developing websites and Apps around his passions, while staying current with trends in technology and social media.