Being a Better Digital Friend

Hi, my name is Justin. I have been a terrible friend. It’s not you, it’s me.

If you're honest with yourself, you have been too.

We can fix it together.

Prior to heading into my brain surgery, Brian Solis left a Facebook comment that highlighted this:

 With likes, favorites and +1s we quickly flow through our social feeds, passively engaging with our friends. We do not meaningfully engage. There are times that we find ourselves in a conversation but, for the most part, our engagements are quick. 

If we were to break it down into the three basic types of engagement, they would look something like this.

Types of Social Engagements

  1. A like, favorite or +1. It is passive and quick but it shows that you are engaged. It makes   the person receiving the like, favorite or +1 feel the momentary high that we all feel as those numbers tick upwards. It makes the person giving the like, favorite or +1 feel as though they’re engaged.
  2. A short, simple comment. This is a quick “That’s great!” or “Nice job!” type of comment. It is better than the passive like, favorite or +1 however still not meaningful. It shows a deeper level of engagement.
  3. A longer, more engaged paragraph. This is where we all need to aim for more of. This level of engagement develops longer relationships. This is where we can have debates, conversations and gain deeper understandings.

As I type this it is from a place of not having the normal inbound flux of other pings and interruptions that I am used to. However, that gets right back to the busy, self-important feeling that Brian mentioned. That shouldn't matter.

Even with emails, text messages and other forms of communications flowing in, we should not change our aim to have more meaningful engagements.

This is not to say that every engagement will be a deeper form of engagement. There are plenty of status updates that I passively engage with. But, it should be a signal that we need to change. 

How does one understand what updates they should passively vs. deeply engage with?

It breaks down to a simple concept: do you feel that your engagement was adequate enough. If the answer is no, then add/expand your comment or engagement.

It’s really that simple.

I have experienced this personally throughout this ordeal.

Every night when I publish my journal entry I immediately receive dozens of “likes” on Facebook. Every “like” makes me feel good, even if just for a passing second. 

But, it’s from the deeper comments, messages or emails that come from those journal entries that my thinking is being reinforced or expanded.

We can all do a better job at it. 

Question: How often do you passively vs actively engage on social media? Why do you choose one over the other?

Image Credit: Fabrizio Lonzini