Online communities and socialising in person

Online communities and socialising in person can be a challenge for people. Either they are shy, lacking the courage to meet with strangers and start a conversation or they are introverts, interested in being in a group but not necessarily to participate in the conversations. The question was “how to go to a glocals meeting when you are really shy ?”. This applies to couchsurfing hangouts, Google+ events, Pokemon Go meetups, slow ups, critical mass and more.

Everyone is shy, that’s why they participate with a friend or more.

Both of these present a challenge. As a shy person you want to go but you do not want to go alone. We see that almost everyone is in that situation. We see it by the number of people who do activities with a friend rather than alone. We see this when socialising in cities, on hikes, during climbing events, canyoning and doing other sports. You see it in the pre-event comments, “my friend and I”, “my girlfriend and I”, “my spouse and I” and more. You see that the difference between a shy person at an event and a courageous one is whether they have a friend to go with them. If they were alone they would not participate. ;-). That notion that people overcome their shyness is a moderate farce.

Passion makes you outgoing

As it fits neither in to shyness nor introversion I feel that passion is very important when you are looking for people to do things with. If you are shy then meeting people for the sake of meeting people will not work. It is hard to overcome shyness without passion. Introversion benefits from passion too. The better you know a topic the more outgoing you will be, the easier it will be to block out shyness. An introvert following his passion hides his introversion very well.

Socialising as an introvert

When I was new to a community like Glocals I tried going to city based social events where there could be drinking and within two or three events I found the experience so dull and uninteresting that I haven’t been again. As an introvert I found that the best events were those to do with sports. Canyoning was one but so where white river rafting, rock climbing both indoors and outdoors, via ferrata, hiking and other activities. I found that I love participating in extreme sports rather than sedentary ones. Throughout the activity you can walk at the same speed as someone else and socialise or you can walk at your own speed and day dream, take pictures or just enjoy the experience.

The active introvert

 

I would encourage all shy people to participate in fun and active events. I want to see more shy single people come to try rock climbing, via ferrata and other sports. The advantage of these activities is that as a shy individual or an introvert you are pushed to interact with people for the purpose of the activity. At the beginning of the day you knew no one but by the end of it you have met a few new people and so friendships can progress as you participate at future events. In effect you were shy the first time but six weeks later you may be a core member. Don’t waste time “overcoming” your shyness at events with alcohol. Overcome your shyness overcoming your fear of jumping from 11m in to a small rock pool.

Social Media and The Human Return on Investment

Social Media and the Human Return on Investment, because contrary to popular belief we use social networks to socialise, not to shop.

As we grow older and more mature our close network of friends changes and evolves. We go from school friends to university friends and then to professional friends. In the process we move from a village to another village, from a town to another town and eventually from one city to another. In the process the links we have with some friends strengthen and others degrade over time. This is modern life.

I find it hard to discern whether the return on time invested on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others is decreasing because people’s understanding of these social networks is shifting or whether it is related to growing up. As the people I know get married and have children their priorities change and privacy becomes more important. We have to keep the children safe.

Facebook, as a social network is less engaging than it used to be. The people I have as friends post less frequently, the events we can participate in together is shifting and the content shown in timelines is evolving. To compensate for the decline in friends engaging in social networks like twitter and Facebook people are following publications, brands and news sources. This flow of information is tailored to the lowest common denominator. The sensationalist writing style discourages me from following these sources of information.

I have a concern that what were social networks until two or three years ago have become advertising networks on which people occasionally socialise and interact with other individuals. I feel that a bigger and bigger portion of the time that people spend on advertising networks is looking at mainstream content and comments. On Facebook as I scroll down the timeline I notice an increasing number of adverts. Personal posts are less and less frequent. Has the community left this “social” network?

I have spent years thinking about online communities and how they interact. During this time I have seen the ebb and flow from one type of community to another across multiple platforms and applications. Within the next two to five years social networks will be virtual reality environments such as we saw with World of Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life. The question is whether people will want to socialise in virtual reality or whether it will be populated by gamers.

Every online social network is stigmatised. This stigmatisation prevents people from fully exploiting the potential of social networks. We see this stigma through the use of dating apps rather than Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks. Dating apps are stigmatised but at least you swipe left or right and you’re done. ;-). You’re only “active” for a few seconds at a time. On Facebook and twitter you need to be active for hours, days, weeks or even months… You have to be careful. You may be stigmatised. 😉

Now that most people see social networks as a waste of time it gives us more time to do other things. It gives us time to read, to do research, to watch television and even to go two or three hours without looking at a mobile or computer screen. Imagine that. 😉

I believe that on the one hand the stigmatisation of Social networks as a waste of time has discouraged people from using them to their full potential. As a result of this people feel comfortable spending ten to fifteen minutes a day on these networks. On the other hand I see marketers, public relations specialists and advertisers push for their campaign to be seen. As peer to peer communication goes down and human return on investment (ROI) decreases, and as marketing campaigns take over the timelines they are effectively closing the door on people’s motivation to spend time reading through their timeline.