Sure, we can send short 140-character messages via twitter or long rambling diatribes via email, but nothing beats talking to someone one on one in person or even on the telephone. Yes, some will argue that we can conduct more responsive interactive conversation within a live chat room platform, where the exchanges can indeed mimic a real world conversation, but once again it is a pale substitute for the real deal. Despite all smileys and emoticon etiquette, something ALWAYS gets lost in translation when it’s just text, my friends.
All right, some will say that the newer forms of communication have improved upon the flaws of the web 1.0 methods of communication. The static forms of the message boards and forums have been usurped by newer mutations of web conversations. For example, the audio and video micro-blogging platforms such as Utterz and Seesmic have indeed introduced more “human” elements to the delicate art of discussions. While it is a step in the right direction by putting a face and voice into the mix, once again I must contend that nothing will ever replace the powerful simplicity of talking to another person.
During my commute home from work I received a surprise phone call from an online friend of mine, none other than Chris Brogan. While we’ve communicated countless times via direct messages and replies on Twitter, exchanged numerous emails and audio/video posts on Utterz and heck even within the comments sections of each other’s blogs, this was truly the first time that we actually had a real honest to goodness old fashioned conversation. There were no @ signs or tinyurl links to be had, just a nice, long talk between friends about numerous topics. It was such a simple and enjoyable way of communicating that I believe I’ve taken it for granted thanks to my deep submersion into the social media ocean.
I know as a fact that I am not the only one who’s all wet when it comes to this matter. There’s a constant stream of new swimmers who dive headfirst into the social networking pool. While it’s a good thing that so many more people are accepting these tools and technology, we all must be careful not to lose sight of what’s most important. We must do our best to make more personal interactions with the people in our lives, whether it’s on the phone or in person.
One of the best new trends in the social networking/media world are all of the meetups and tweetups going on in so many cities across the country. Virtual friends are taking their conversation offline and meeting their friends in person at local establishments. I think that is a fantastic step in the right direction. If you can’t make one of these meetings any time soon, then just pick up the phone and give your new friend a call. Who knows, you might actually help bring back the lost art of conversation.