Circling your Social Network
February 11, 2010 24 Comments
It’s about concentric circles.
Specifically, I don’t like how social platforms tend to force you into binary choices about people in your network. In Facebook, everyone you choose to connect to is a “friend”. With Twitter, you have followers, and/or you follow. It’s all too simplistic and, in fact, quite inaccurate.
My network (on-line and off-line) can be more accurately divided into four levels:
2. Acquaintances – people with whom I’ve had at least some passing contact, professional or personal or virtual.
3. Friends – people with whom I have more extensive and regular contact (professional or personal or virtual), generally finding areas of common interest and shared experience.
4. Intimates – my “inner circle” (professional / personal / virtual). These are folks with whom there is a deeper trust relationship and more transparent level of sharing.
Social networking technology actually enables growth at every level, and can provide interesting opportunities for and with people from intimates to audience. It also helps move people along into closer orbit – many of those who I now consider friends and “inner circle” folks were met via social media.
I actually wish social platforms would enable us to categorize and “filter” people more readily by making such distinctions. Because we might want to provide levels of transparency to different groups in an intuitive manner (yes, I know you can monkey with Facebook settings to do some of this, but I’d like one dashboard that aggregates the entire social graph…)
As John and I were discussing, the public nature of social media means we have to be careful not to make people feel excluded. Yet my sense is that if we relate openly and transparently with people, realistically understanding how relationships progress, then we can accomplish quite the opposite – slow and steady inclusion into deeper layers of intimacy (I’m sure John agrees).
That’s my take, anyway. Make sense to you?
P.S. it is my intention, in 2010, to spend far more time cultivating my inner circles, as that is where I am now convinced the greatest impact and good can occur.
Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog