Raking for Relationships

August 4, 2009
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Imagine you are outside with a rake–or a broom or a snow shovel or a hammer or a paint brush or any other workbench tool–and during your task, you strike up a conversation with a passer-by. Sally, the woman walking by, admired your front lawn flowers or architectural style of your porch–or she asked you […]

Imagine you are outside with a rake–or a broom or a snow shovel or a hammer or a paint brush or any other workbench tool–and during your task, you strike up a conversation with a passer-by. Sally, the woman walking by, admired your front lawn flowers or architectural style of your porch–or she asked you for the time. Maybe she commented to nobody in particular about the sunny weather and you heard her.

It matters not what she said or why she said it. Fact is, she said something, you stopped holding your tool and doing your task, and remarked a response back.

Once you have that scene set in your mind, imagine that the rake is a social networking site. It could be Facebook or Digg or Trip Advisor. You write a message on that site (like raking leaves in your yard), someone sees it (like Sally walking by) and engages you in conversation.

Depending on the nature of the site, you might be able to be like Twitter or Delicious and follow each other to converse in private messages. You might be able to be like IRC or AOL Chat and freely talk in a private room. You might be able to be like E-Mail and exchange messages and files to your heart’s content.

As the minutes progress into hours, and the hours into days, you slowly realize that what began as an innocent conversation with Sally has transformed into a relationship with her. Sally now comes around to talk to you three times a week, when she walks around the neighborhood. You’ve become tennis partners with her husband. Your kids swim at the local Y with their kids.

Your relationship with Sally began with a rake but has progressed into something more, something special beyond the simple garden tool.

Why should it be different online? If you and I met on one social networking tool and have progressed from one tool-based conversation to many conversations around a dynamic workbench, isn’t it safe–days or weeks or months later–to not be tied to the rake? There is a reason we call this thing social media. There is a reason we don’t suggest people embrace a singular social medium, right?

If you and Sally have moved your relationship beyond the singular and into the plural, why focus your relationship on the rake?

         


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