To ask or not to ask? To assume or not to assume?
The other day I had this crazy AH HA moment. I was at a music festival in downtown Denver, CO, flowing through the crowd of colorful people when all of a suddenâ€¦ I bumped into a girl friend I didn’t know would be there that I hadnâ€™t seen in over a year! We both smiled with excitement and totally hugged it out.Â Stepping back, I admired how great she looked and then asked the standard question that two friends ask that havenâ€™t hung out in ages:
“How have you been?”
Only in that moment… without her saying a word, a flash flood of facts began to circle my mind.
Not only was I aware of her move 8 months ago , when she followed her heart across the country to be with her love, but I also felt a tad sad for her with the news that the relationship ended, which is why she was back in town . I was in the know about the super fun week-long cruise she went on with a bunch of her closest friends and the concert she recently rocked out at with her local besties. I knew she became a first time home owner last month.Â I could even tell her where she ate donuts last week.
How did I know this? Am I psychic?
No. We are friends on Facebook.
And then I began to go deeper. I wondered what she thought when she saw me? Thinking back to what I had given myself the green light to share over the past 12 months. However, only I, as well as the people involved with me on a more personal level, shared my secret in that I did not update my status with every major life event I’d overcome in the past 12 months. Perhaps people thought I did? But really, who shares everything. I only chose to share, based on my personal standards, what I believed was appropriate. SO, who was I to assume I knew what was going on in her life? Most likely, she only posted what personal information she also felt needed no filter.
Reality was, our conversation kick started with an outline of our lives, bullet points of socially shared information.
How many times have you crossed paths with an old co worker or classmate and didnâ€™t ask as many probing questions about their lives because you assumed the answers due to their status updates?Â Â Or you casually ran into an old friend but tip toed around the big, pink elephant in the room, the life-changing event they posted yet you didn’t know how to bring it up without being inappropriate. Or, maybe you are one of those Facebook Friends that rarely tags a picture of family or checks into a restaurant but instead you scroll the feed keeping up to date on what’s going on with your circle of cyberspace buddies. Now what, do you tell them you visit (face stalked) their page even though your page has the same Profile Picture from last Fall, meaning the face to face friend is oblivious to your own life. These scenarios are new realities we deal with as a result of the influence of Social Media. The art of the conversation has a new normal.
About an hour after my friend and I initially started chatting in the beer line, I decided to share with her all these questions that filled my mind as we walked towards the stage to get our groove on. Did it feel a bit awkward? Yes. BUT, I opened our conversation to discuss all the “status update” details we’d skipped over, lifting the veil of assumption. It also pushed the big, pink elephant out of the way, giving us more room to dance in the sunshine and sing to the live tunes that brought us together in the first place.
So I’m curious, do you allow what you read about your friends to be the backbone of conversation? Do you feel a sense of responsibility to address information you know about someone when you see them? Does it embarrass you to acknowledge all that you know of them from their Facebook feed even though they shared knowing all had the ability to read?
Please scroll down to comment below, I’d love to start a Social Media Conversation 🙂