By Heidi Moore On Apr 16 2012, 2:50 pm
With everyone on their way home or already home from RT, I thought I'd chat a bit about conferences from a slightly different point of view.
From the point of view of someone who stays home.
This business we're in is kind of funny in that a lot of the time the isolation can be almost crippling. But then there is the occasional binge of friends and meetings and panels and pitches and parties and fun (or so I've heard).
Yip, it's feast or famine around here.
So how can those of us who don't get to go to the feasts be involved, be in touch, be part of?
Today we have a thousand and one types of social media to help us connect with people. But is it the same as looking someone in the eye? Shaking someone's hand? Getting down with someone to Aretha?
I don't know.
Two weeks ago I went to a talk given by a local cop about protecting our kids online – scared the bejeezes out of me and I immediately came home and put Band Aids over the camera lens on our laptops (do you know that just by clicking on the wrong banner you can get a virus that activates your computer's camera remotely, and the camera can be on even if the little light isn't?) Anyway, the cop said something that stuck with me. He said that today you ask a kid how many friends they have and they'll give you some astronomical number. They'll give you the number of Facebook friends they have–friends they've never actually played with, never actually spoken to–and that can be dangerous because they often allow these 'friends' the same amount of intimacy they would give a friend that lives next door, who goes to school with them and knows their family and shares their life, their real life.
Is this true for us big kids too?
Can we consider our many friends on Twitter, Facebook, Skype, MySpace (do people still use that?), Divas, the blogosphere actual friends? Well, sometimes I think we can. While I don't think we can create the same amount of closeness we have with our friends that knew us when we were young and stupid and have a world of history with, there is a lot to be said for virtual friends. Especially when you're a million miles from everyone and cables and Wi-Fi are the only connections we have to other people like us.
I should get back to what started this ramble… Can we live vicariously through our virtual friends and their tweets, updates and blog posts when we don't get to go to conferences? Maybe? No, it's probably not the same as actually being there…but as my dad used to say, you make do with what you have.
And when you think of it, we're better off today than we were years ago before the explosion of social media. Today we get to read the awesome notes author friends tweet while they're attending panels and talks. We get to see pictures of so-and-so's new shoes instantly uploaded. We get to be part of things in a small way. And that's something. It might not be a feast—it's probably more like a low-calorie lunch—but it something.
So, as I settle in with my second mug of coffee in one hand and my mouse in the other, I'm off to see who said something interesting/smart/inappropriately funny, who wore something interesting/smart/inappropriately funny and who did…well, you get the idea.
Heidi Moore, Editor