Emailing In Real Life


Social media has brought many wonderful people into my life, and today I am feeling very appreciative of some of them. Of course, the challenge with being ostensibly “connected” with so many at once is that I am in danger of losing sight of our real life connections to each other. Now that I’m online more with my new business, I am slowly catching up with some of the special people I know from online communities. But it seems like it’s never enough, and people slip away with distance, without quite meaning to.

I guess this is okay. I can’t hold on to every relationship, nor can I be as connected with everyone as they would like for me to be. We all pick and choose where to gift our attention. I’m certainly not the only one thinking about this. It reminds me of a brilliant post written by an online friend of mine, Dan Perez: The Klout Myth and Living Above the Influence.

I had a conversation via email with Joshua Fields Millburn in which he mentioned that he might be getting rid of email. This really got me thinking. Now, Joshua is a minimalist, so it’s not so surprising that he’s experimenting with cutting things out of his life. He tends to focus on the question, “Is this adding value? Can I go without it?”

My response to his idea is mixed feelings. I have been struggling with loneliness, and as I find writing to be therapeutic. Particularly when I get tired and sad, I find myself writing long, rambling emails to people I am thinking of, people I care about, and to those who help push my thinking in a particular direction that seems intuitively right, as Joshua does.

In any case, I’ve gone a different direction in this post than I meant to. All I mean to say here, I think, is that it’s dawning on me that I am going to have to pick and choose who I get to interact with “in real life.” Being online makes it perfectly possible to broadcast to a large audience. It makes it easy for me to acquire interesting and unusual people and connect with them online.

The thing that I am realizing, slowly, is that my online “friends” are really more like online “acquaintances.” Until we bridge somehow to a more intimate form of communication, and until we sit down over a meal or a cup of coffee together, we aren’t really connected.

I know… next I am going to get a flood of invitations to coffee 🙂 But that’s the point; I can’t sit down and have coffee with everyone I know online, or I won’t get any work done (unless sitting down over a cup of coffee with y’all *is* my work, which is always possible 😉

I love that. Perhaps I will try it. I can have a “Have a cup of coffee with Jackie day” and charge some hefty fee per hour. Now THAT would be an interesting experiment.

But aside from wild and silly ideas like that one, I realize that I am going to pick and choose. However, *online* I don’t have to pick and choose in quite the same way. It’s ok that I don’t always tune in to all of Dan Perez’s posts; we interact once in a while online, and that amount of “friendship” seems ok for us. I just occasionally wish I knew more about people like Dan. I wonder what he’s been up to, and where he is going. I don’t feel like a real friend to Dan. If I were to drop offline, I’m not sure he’d even notice. I’m using him as an example, but there are a lot of other people that fit the same description.

My thought is, I’d like to know a little more about what people like Dan have been up to. There are a lot of folk I both like and respect that I’ve met as I went hypersocial over the last few years. What I am going to try, I think, is a series of posts featuring some of these online acquaintances. I’ll call it the “Who the %!@# is…” series.

Maybe I’ll do Dan first, since he came up 🙂

4 thoughts on “Emailing In Real Life

  1. Jackie,
    Nicely written. As you know, I enjoy honesty in “writing”. That way, everyone knows where you stand. You know where I stand in this whole social media “relationship” thing. It’s like a vapor “that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”. I tend to believe that most online “tribes”, if put together to work in the same office for a year, would end up starting packs and hating on each other. Human nature never fails.

    The real relationships that matter in my life were forged over many years, that’s not to say that valuable relationships can’t form online but let’s not over-value the sharing of tweets on a stream or a few drinks shared at a tweetup, yes? They are still humble beginnings with little roots.

    I try to keep my world very small so that I can give my attention to those people and things that really matter. The wider I make my world, the less attention I end up giving to those people/things that really matter. You can’t be everyone’s friend (nor should you want to be) so stick to the people that matter. I”ve been blessed with a great family and a small handful of real friends – anything else that comes from my online activity, from a friendship to a business opportunity to just a chuckle at someone’s tweet, is just gravy…and I like gravy.

    Thanks for mentioning my post (it’s still one of my proudest writing moments). As for my life (and business) things couldn’t be better. Why? I stick to the things that matter – it pays off in the end.


    1. Thanks, Dan. You’re one of the people whose work I respect, and I haven’t forgotten how much you encouraged me the last time I started a writing project like this. It means a lot to me.

      I wrote a response to what I think of as your “Offline Klout” post back when you first wrote it, and I still think about it a lot, as that topic comes up frequently when I do hang out with people I first met online. I am coming to believe that I still have a lot to learn about what makes for a productive, happy life.

      I love that you operate from such a base of confidence. I’m only just now getting comfortable sticking my neck out a little, and it’s uncomfortable! You’re brave 🙂

      Lots of good thoughts your way.


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