I love meeting people through social gatherings, it is one of the reasons I participate and help organize the Second Life Community Convention. Social media is an extension of face to face interactions, but not just one way; last night’s TweetUp NYC is an example of such an occurrence. The idea behind social media is to interact with friends, family, and to create new friends through web applications where personal interactions occur. While social media applications can be a conduit for business, services, and news it ultimately provides a direct interaction with two individuals. Rather than having to call family members one by one to outline my day and what is going on, I could Twitter and provide the minor details (and save a phone bill). The beauty of these services is using them to meet someone new, although it provides an insight into a stranger’s life like no other. It is through meetups and gatherings that interactions turn into stronger means of interaction.
Connections made, first through social media, and enhanced through social engagements create stronger bonds between individuals. In last night’s experience, I was able to connect with friends I do not see on a day to day basis and meet new, interesting people (especially people whom I’m a fan or follower). In discussion, @woodlandalyssa pointed me to a recent New York Times Magazine article exploring social media interaction and makes several interesting point. One of them being that we are interacting with friends, family or strangers in ways that may need very little face time to truly understand a person. The fear is that it may eliminate face to face interactions altogether. I believe social media is the new ice breaker in developing stronger connections with other people and strengthens face to face meetings. Something like TweetUp is a great place to socialize because there a comfort zone has been established, more than likely the people you know attending the gathering are the same you interact with through Twitter although you may have never met face to face. It is rare that you would ask for that person’s name or job or where they live, that sort of information is usually already known. In events like TweetUp or the SLCC there is a commonality, everyone may be a bit geeky but a vast array of geeks and interests. In my socializing last night, I found that to be very true, I met members of a band with crazy hair, a sports fanatic, video experts, PR and twitter celebrities.
I believe that more of these interactions should happen in several different formats and be more inclusive of other social networks. Why have a twitter meet up when you can introduce friends of your plurk friends to the gathering and combine the two? The combination of social media and social media gatherings provide powerful ways to extend personal social network, idea, or even meet new friends. If you do it right, you may also extend your professional career as well.