What started as a Twitter thread evolved into this post. Human interactions have expanded online over the last two decades. Instead of improving communication and strengthening close ties, it’s made the world move faster, communicate with less depth, and connect with people we’ll never get to really know. Perhaps, this is a time to rethink how we communicate and connect online to improve how we do so in the physical world as well.
Community over commodity.
Communication is an art, perhaps in the age of social media, a lost art.
I recall an oft shared quote, which may or may not have been said by Blaise Pascal, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
The point is that when we are intentional and thoughtful, we can be incredibly articulate, engaging, and even rousing.
As Albert Einstein once observed, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
If one is to express ideas, thoughts, or feelings through words, or any other form of communication, one must understand, not only the subject, but also the point of view of our intended listener.
Understanding a concept and our audience is essential for the greatest communication, the successful sharing of ideas and feelings.
The pace at which we attempt communication today, which is only accelerating, and the media to which we have unprecedented access, is eroding the very foundation of communication itself. But it doesn’t have to…
Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic words, “the medium is the message” has changed how we perceive communication and also how we communicate. But back to Pascal’s words, or the idea of them, the intent and thoughtfulness that goes into our communication, combined with an understanding of those with whom are sharing, can usher in a renaissance of communication much needed in these times.
Somewhere along the way, we lost the art of social contact and communication as a building block of society, whether digital or in the real world. We can change that.
Social media became more about the media than it did about communication. Social networking became more about the activity than it did the connection.
But, when you get down to the heart of the matter…
Social is the media. Social is the network.
Maybe it’s time to practice communication by getting back to the basics of social contact. Perhaps, one way to realign digital and real world societies is to start with writing a letter to someone you care about.
It’s funny; in the era of e-mail and voice mail [and social media] and all those things I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.” – Elizabeth Kostova
Shifting from the Medium as the Message to the Message as the Medium
It got me thinking about the state of communications, “social” media and networking, and where we can go from here…
Writing letters is wonderfully therapeutic and a beautiful way to feed our soul.
Receiving them….oh, what a gift.
Let’s press pause for a moment…
We live in an evolving, yet fast-paced world where Zoom, #socialmedia, and devices have have changed relationship dynamics, accelerated interactions, thinking, and actions, and placed greater value in the short-term.
We skim the top of conversational oceans at high speeds rather than dive into deeper, slower realms of conversations that linger and spark change, creativity, and meaningful outcomes.
It has all made us question our lives, our self-worth, and led us to believe that…
Quantity matters more than quality
Image matters more than authenticity
Popularity matters more than substance
Numbers matter more than meaning
Trends matter more than relevance
Engagement has suppressed empathy in exchange for the ephemeral feelings that come with Likes, follows, and rapid-fire commentary.
Sometimes, we’re deceived into believing we only matter when we receive attention. It’s not true of course.
You were not put on this planet to validate your existence by the # of clicks on a status update.
You are more important, able, and beautiful beyond any number of likes, comments, or followers can attest.
Maybe we should use this time to rethink where we are, where we are headed, and where we could go. Perhaps we can take this time to look within to assess what and who we really value. There are new possibilities and opportunities out there for us to explore…
Maybe it’s time to reconnect with our real world social network, those we lost touch with, those we think about one day reaching out to, those who shaped who we are.
Maybe it’s time to let someone know how much of an impact they’ve made on your life or work. Maybe it’s time to make amends with those you have hurt and forgive those who have hurt you.
Maybe it’s time to reach out to someone whom you’ve long admired to let them know how much they have helped you. Who knows, maybe they’ll be open to mentorship or even friendship.
Now’s the time to reawaken relationships that have been idle or those you’ve been meaning to cultivate.
These are opportunities to strengthen IRL social networks and to reinforce strong ties, to invest in important, but weaker or aspirational ties.
These relationships could very well be, strike that, will be your support system, and theirs, for navigating the uncharted future that awaits us.
“Social” literally means relating to society and needing companionship.
We can use social media differently. We have to for our own good and the good of those we care about.
With purpose and intent, “social” becomes the media, “social” becomes the network.
We become more purposeful.
We become more compassionate.
We become more informed.
We become more intentional.
Social media doesn’t just have to be digital…social media can also be a letter we send to someone.
The act of sending and receiving, opening, holding, reading letters can improve our days, warm our hearts, and enrich our relationships as well as our self-esteem.
The acts of sending and receiving letters can offer moral support, spark creativity and new ideas, unleash positive emotions and positivity in general, revive and start important connections, bring the world closer together under a brighter light.
I propose we help start a new trend…to take this time to touch those who matter to us and to also give to ourselves the joy of building meaningful relationships…to create the tomorrow we want to see by changing how we live today.
Sending letters is just what the world could use now.
Writing and connecting with people who matter will feed our souls and the soul of humanity.
In doing so, we’ll change our personal trajectory and we’ll positively affect the lives of those we touch.
I can’t wait. 💌
Brian Solis | Author, Keynote Speaker, Futurist
Brian Solis is world-renowned digital analyst, anthropologist and futurist. He is also a sought-after keynote speaker and an 8x best-selling author. In his new book, Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive and happy life, Brian tackles the struggles of living in a world rife with constant digital distractions. His previous books, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design and What’s the Future of Business explore the future of customer and user experience design and modernizing customer engagement in the four moments of truth.
Invite him to speak at your next event or bring him in to your organization to inspire colleagues, executives and boards of directors.