“Every person is a new door to a different world.”
– from the play/movie “Six Degrees of Separation”

I am blessed to know many people and have many people, both online and off, who I consider to be good friends. Some of these friends I have known seemingly forever – since public school. Others I’ve known for the past 20 years or so that I’ve been a “grownup”. Still others I’ve met only in the past couple of years. Some people I consider friends are people I’ve never even met face to face.

As I’ve gotten older, my definition of what makes for a real friendship has changed. When I was a little kid, my best friend was the one who I could play Barbies with for hours on end without getting bored. When I was a teenager, my friends were the girls I could talk with on the phone for hours about the cutest boy or the coolest music. As a young adult, my closest friends were the ones I would stay out with, whooping it up till all hours of the night and morning. Now, in my mid late thirties, my friends are the people who I rely on most, to share good times and bad. They are the people who enrich my life with their wisdom, kindness, generosity and love.

I’ve come to the realization that the reason I’ve been so blessed to have so many amazing friends is at least partially due to the fact that I try to be a good friend to them too. You see, REAL friendship – I’m talking the non-ego, unconditional, no strings attached, giving, loving type of friendship – is a two way street.

With events like the Shorty Awards, which aims to praise those people who are doing well at social media, I figured I’d share some of the reasons why I think being a good friend makes you good at social media.

It Feels Good to Help
In any friendship, there are times when your friends need help. As a good friend, you step up to the plate, and do whatever you can to assist. You do it without thinking about what’s in it for you. And when it’s over, you feel good that you were able to do your part. Sometimes, you are the one that needs the help. If you’ve been a good and helpful friend, you’ll find that, without question, your friends are now ready to step up and lend a hand to you. That’s what real friendship is about.

In your social networks, what kind of friend are you? Are you helping out when it’s needed, without expecting anything in return? Are you asking for help when you need it, without being too demanding? Find that balance of helping when you can, and asking for help when you need it. You’ll feel great, and your online experience will be richer for it.

For Good Times, and Bad Times
Ah, the 80’s. A time of bad hairstyles, worse clothes, and Dionne Warwick and Friends. OK, so the song was a bit over the top and cheesy (hey, it WAS the 80’s), but its message was clear. Real friends are friends no matter what – when times are good, it’s great. When times get tough, friends stick together.

As we head on into 2009, I am so optimistic about the possibilities that lie ahead. I’m excited to be involved in collaborations with amazing, talented people like Danny Brown and Kathryn Jennex. I’ve got some business opportunities that are going to change things in a big way. I’ll be teaching college students about new media and social media, and loving every minute of it. At the same time, the economic climate is far from perfect, and this is going to present some unique challenges for all of us. But I am a firm believer that there is strength in numbers. Together, we can celebrate all the good that has come to us through social media, and we can be there for each other as we go through our various struggles. It’s a comfort to know that I have so many people that are part of my online life, who are there for me, just as I am for them, no matter what the future holds.

Social media has changed the way we view friendship. It’s amazing how close I feel to some people; people I’ve never even met face to face! Those that don’t spend a lot of time in social networks may find this a hard concept to grasp. I guess what it comes down to is that this online space is inherently a place of open communication and sharing. The fact that we are able to nurture these aspects of human relationships here naturally lends itself to the creation of valuable and lasting friendships. And that’s a pretty powerful thing.

In what ways are you a good friend?

8 Responses

  1. Hey Suze,

    Your point about human relationships being nurtured via social media was echoed during this morning’s Social Media Breakfast Ottawa event. We were talking about the various happening in the social media world over the past year and someone mentioned that what social media (the web really) has done is give back our human voice(s).

    To be a good participant in the (social media) conversation is the same as being a good friend. You need to have effective listening skills. Then join the conversation and share your opinion in a way that gives value/contributes to what you’re hearing.

    Melany Gallant’s last blog post..Help Social Media Breakfast select a logo!

  2. Good analogy. From what I’ve seen, people use social media the way they socialize in “real” life. I’ve seen some who only have 1-sided conversations and others who are more generous & engaging like you’ve described above. This doesn’t seem to correlate to a person’s visibility or stature either.

    I totally agree with you that you reap what you sow. I try to be a good friend by being there through thick and thin even when it isn’t convenient and being generous at both giving and receiving.

    Thanks for the reminder of how important friendships are and how this extends to the new online relationships we are all developing through social media.

    It sounds like 2009 will be a good year for you and I wish you all the best!

  3. Another great post Sue. Two things I’d qualify though. The first is your title “Being a Good Friend Makes You Good at Social Media”. I would argue that those who are “good at social media” (which needs defining itself), are still in the minority but there are lots of people who are good friends – so it follows that there are lots of people who are good friends but not good at social media. I am thinking of most seniors, people in lower socio-economic brackets….
    My second qualifier would be that “online space is inherently a place of open communication and sharing.” To this I have two words: Web 1.0. 🙂

    Robin Browne’s last blog post..GTA geeks use Twitter/blogs to gather to give generously

  4. I’ve always been a firm believer of treating people how you’d like to be treated – personally and professionally. That way, if you’re mean or disrespectful to someone – well, it doesn’t say a lot about how you view yourself…

    If anyone truly believes they can get through life without friends as long as they have money and success, they’re poorer than anyone I know.

    Great post, Suze, and I look forward to working with you in 2009 – we have the chance to do something great! 🙂

    Danny Brown’s last blog post..Thank You’s and Apologies

  5. I too am in my mid, ok, late thirties, and share this same feeling. It’s empowering to know that there are finally friends that I can TRUST around me. I spent 20 yrs in active addiction, before getting out in the real world. I knew zero trustworthy people, I knew zero about change. I knew zero about fulfilling, giving, loving, nurturing friendships. But I knew I could BE a trustworthy friend, and that’s all I had…Until I met people online, like you and the many others that we Tweet with, Digg with, Stumble with, laugh with, help the universe with.

    I cry sometimes, like as Im writing this, as a matter of fact. I’m finally able to cry from happiness, instead of fear. The world, not just people who are living the lifestyle I removed myself from, is fear based and so unhappy. I love playing a very active role in pushing people in the direction of REAL friends, who talk like how you are talking right now.

    It is literally life saving. If I hadn’t found activists I wouldve probably had no faith in anyone because, whether people want to believe it or not, men in suits carry the same greed based, manipulative, destructive qualities, as your local dope pushers. and just as cruel when they need to be. I couldnt believe what I was seeing when I entered marketing/SEO/SM..

    I began exposing marketers for their true nature and was kicked out of Sphinn, and other forums, as a result.

    Thank goodness, I found you and social change. Now, I have something to live for.

    You don’t know me, and I probably said too much. If so, Im sorry. I just wanted you to know how important you really are.

    Kimberly Bock’s last blog post..When Morality and Reputation Management Collide

  6. Part of what I love about dialogue and disagreement is that it forces us to clarify the terms we use. I was just thinking about your “inherent” comment and realized that, perhaps, I wasn’t 100% clear on the definition of inherent. So I dropped the dish I was washing and ran to the trusty dictionary (ok, maybe it’s not as trusty as wikitionary). My old Webster’s defines inherent as “existing in someone or something as a permanent characteristic or quality”. So you’re right Sue. The net is inherently two way and “Web 1.0” referred to how it was used not what it was. This is evidenced by the fact that early adopters were doing Web 2.0 stuff on the Web while the rest of the world was still 1.0.
    Communication never ceases to fascinate me!

    Robin Browne’s last blog post..GTA geeks use Twitter/blogs to gather to give generously

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