Topic: Relationships matter
Today’s cyber-powered connectivity calls into question: what really constitutes a relationship?
“Facebook is really beneficial for staying in touch when friends go away to different colleges,” said Jordan Santos, a Granite Bay High School graduate last summer headed to San Diego State this fall, “but we need to understand that messaging on Facebook and texting is not a relationship.”
Santos has been practicing cyber communications since the fifth grade when he received his first mobile phone. “Face to face communications is becoming a lost skill,” said Santos, “we are increasingly more inclined to meet a new person through a Facebook connection.”
It’s important distinguish a “relationship” from a “connection”, because your ability to achieve career goals is largely dependent upon the quality of the relationships and network connections you develop.
Relationships for the most part are predicated upon a certain level of trust. Very close intimate relationships involve a high level of trust and are predicated by experience and demonstrated commitment such as dating and marriage, work history, or ascribed such as when you were born to your parents.
Connections involve the people to whom you have legitimate communication access through your personal network. In business, connections are high value, especially in sales, because the more relevant connections you have in your field of interest the more possibility of reaching someone who has the power to hire or to purchase from you.
Among the first relationships in our lives are family members. These are the people we really need to make sure we unplug and reconnect with face-to-face or via voice, as family is the first long term bonding in our lives that can offer a personal safety zone or our inner circle.
A relationship also involves some level of knowledge and commitment wherein each person is receiving a benefit and or has an obligation, such as a mentor or employment relationship.
Social media (websites including Facebook, MySpace, Foursquare) allow each one of us to manage “one-to-many connections”. In this on-line environment, we are the central figure and our connections can range from a handful to hundreds even thousands of people involving folks you know really well, like family members, to friends at school, acquaintances and strangers.
And it doesn’t necessarily require face-to-face communication skills.
Sixteen-year-old Autumn Hall of Carmichael, California observes that social media can become a crutch. “It feels more secure to start relationships on-line, but face-to-face communication skills are lacking. Lots of teens go into their shells,” said Hall, who added that you cannot “get” a relationship using social media and the same holds true for finding a job.
In the network world it is important to be focused on safe relationships – defined around a level of trust predicated upon off-line relationships.
For example, it’s not a good idea to accept a “friend request” from someone you don’t know, even if in their request they mention people you know and trust. It is much better to speak with the person being used as a reference to gain access to you and your network. Find out how (s)he knows him. If there is no off-line connection that can verify this friend request is trustworthy, it is better to ignore or deny.
In the on-line world, it is easy to feel like everyone is trust worthy. There is an illusion of anonymity and security sitting behind a screen on the desk or in the palm of your hand, and it may be tempting to accumulate as many connections as possible because the higher your friend count the more esteem you may feel.
Keep in mind that if you are purpose-driven in your use of cyber technology, you will have clear objectives with social media. For example, you might choose to utilize a website like LinkedIn for professional connections and keep Facebook for personal communications involving friends and family.
Set your privacy setting to “friends only”, and focus on off-line relationships (family time, activities with friends, volunteer in the community, mentor relationships) so that you can develop the confidence to meet people face-to-face which is so important for achieving career objectives.
Joanna Jullien firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanna married her high school sweetheart and over the past 25 years they have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from UC Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture) and has over 20 years experience as a professional manager in information technology, manufacturing, energy and environment.
Joanna writes on parenting in the 21st century, as she has observed and personally experienced many strains on the parent-child relationship with the advent of the Internet, mobile phones and popular culture.