Authentic stories are about relationships (off and online)

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Chris Lema, in his keynote at the 2014 Grand Rapids WordCamp, reminds us that life is about relationships and that we don’t let technology get in the way of that. (You can view his presentation below.)

This is a fascinating topic since technology can help us connect with people we wouldn’t have been able to connect with years ago. (Some of you might remember pen pals, where we would write letters to people in other countries and share news?) But on the other hand, we might also end up ignoring the people right in front of us.

That’s a good reminder.

christoph's twitter connectionsJust looking at my Twitter connections, I see connections in several states and hundreds in countries other than the United States.

I’ve met several of my connections offline and I have to say that the offline meetings have strengthened the overall relationship. We know each other more now. We’ve talked – offline! And we continue to talk online.

When I first started speaking at conferences, workshops and training sessions I talked about how to make time for social media. Perhaps, the time has come to also mention how to make time for offline conversations!

Put the phone down! NOW.

Wait, finish reading this first. But then. Put it down and talk to your kids. If you don’t have kids, say “hi” to the neighbor. (Remember when we knew our neighbors and had conversations over the fence?)

Seeing the video of Chris’ presentation came at a good time for me. I attended a meeting a few weeks ago and planned to take notes on paper. I left all my electronics behind and planned to participate without any interruption and take notes with an actual pen. (It even took me a while to find an actual pen. :))

I have to say that it was quite refreshing. My attention was more focused and my thoughts remained on the subject – as opposed to going between the offline discussion and whatever email or Twitter notification was coming in.

As Chris says in his talk, technology (like WordPress) can make dreams come true. And that’s true, but it can also cause us to miss important things offline. The trick perhaps is to integrate technology and offline interactions in the most meaningful way.

Sometimes it’s OK to put the phone down and look up. See our kids’ picture-worthy moments live and not through photos posted on Facebook. And sometimes, it’s OK to blog, share news on social media and catch up on what others are doing.

There’s a balance and at some point, who knows how much easier technology will become to use…