Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Tie That Binds

“One can be a brother only in something. Where there is no tie that binds men, men are not united but merely lined up.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Over the last year or so, I have constructed an amazingly diverse network of online acquaintances, colleagues and friends.

We have shared doubts, frustrations, fears and hopes about our professional and personal lives.

Via messages on Twitter and Plurk, we've learned of occasions both joyful (promotions, graduations, marriages, pregnancies) and sorrowful (unemployment, natural disaster, death).

Last night, people investigated what seemed like a cry for help, not resting until it was determined that a curious child had accidentally hit an emergency button on a cellphone.

This morning, my daughter sent me the link to a New York Times article about a blogger who was seriously injured in a plane crash. Her virtual friends have rallied to raise funds for a woman who entertained and inspired them, not because she is "perfect" but because "she chose to focus on the beauty" in life.

Social networking is a powerful tool. Think of how you use it to expand and enrich your life. Could you ever be comfortable walking away from this tie that binds?

"Circle of Friends" by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha


vanhookc said...

Powerful words!

Anonymous said...

As one of the people you have met online, I too see the wonderful ties that bind in social media. I also, however, have seen how strongly it can affect my OFFline life and have made serious efforts to step back recently. I'm not blogging as much and have backed WAY off of twitter, decreasing my network from almost 1000 to only about 20. I check in on Facebook each day, but am now trying to nurture my current relationships, both on and offline before seeking new ones. I do think there's truth to the saying that too many relationships makes many of them shallow, while having fewer makes each deeper and more meaningful. Of course, this is largely in part to the stage of life I'm in and the age of my children, but my time in heavy social media use the last 9 months has taught me a lot - some good and some bad. Lots of lessons, but all have given me great insight into how our students interact and how all of us need to set our own limits for how social media will fit into life. I'm in a spot now where I'm ever so grateful for some of the bonds that I've made, but coming to the realization that many of the online ties I made were very superficial, able to be released with no effort at all. Thanks for this post, it's really given me a lot to think about!

diane said...

vanhookc - Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

I understand your reservations and you raise some issues that I know I will have to resolve when I begin working exclusively from home next year.

Social networking is empowering and beguiling. It has added so much to my professional - and personal - growth that I can't imagine completely abandoning it.

However, it does demand a lot of time and can't be allowed to replace other types of human interaction.

It may take me a while to find the right balance. Hope you'll be there with some words of wisdom while I'm trying to work it all out ;-)

Shawn said...

I question social networking vis-a-vis the Web. 'Internet community' may be a contradiction in terms. The jury is still out on that one for me.

The best to you and this blog. It looks very, very interesting.

diane said...


Thank you for visiting. I love my "internet community." Without it, I never would have been able to interact with people from around the world, some of whom I now count as friends, all of whom have made my life more varied and textured.