As I read my Twitter feeds daily, I come across several messages about being a connected educator. Most people immediately think about social media and its power of connecting others. While social media tools are powerful, and I certainly have benefited greatly in expanding my personal and professional connections because of the use of social media, I want to explore the power of both hardwired and wireless connections.
What attracts people to the use of social media? Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. People now have relationships and connectedness at their fingertips. Social media gives us the opportunity to watch the game of life from the top of the arena, usually in the cheap seats. We watch from afar, make comments, and move on to the next post. There are people behind the posts that are shared on social media outlets, and it is human nature to want to be connected with others who seem interesting and inspiring. I have used social media tools to connect personally with old and new friends and to keep in touch with family. Professionally, I have used Twitter, Voxer, LinkedIn, blogs, Pinterest and Instagram to grow professionally in my field. These tools have been great professional development resources for me and gateway tools to more in-depth personal and professional relationships.
The wired relationships that I am referring to in this post are those relationships that extend beyond 140 characters, or pictures with captions that others like, or blog posts that receive tons of positive comments. Wired relationships happen when people are playing the game of life with you instead of watching from the sideline. The wired relationships are those people you can get to rather quickly via phone, text, Vox, Google Hangout, Face Time, or even face-to-face. The wired relationships have unlimited characters and include memories you make together, rather than pictures and posts you view as a spectator. You see, wired relationships are not contingent on if the person happens to be using their social media tools that day or if they are in a place that has wifi. Wired relationships are real, organic, and go beyond the surface level. The wired relationships are the ones we turn to when we are celebrating, hurting, struggling, or just want to talk.
In my opinion, both types of connectedness are important and have served me well. I have many wireless connections that have become wired relationships. I can speak first hand to the power of social media and how it has connected me with wonderful educators and people across the world. In the same respect, most of my treasured relationships are the wonderful teachers and administrators that I work alongside each day. These are my turn to connections when I have a question or need an opinion. They are my support group and my cheerleaders. The know me beyond 140 characters and pictures, and they choose to stick around.
In a world that is instant and focused on the next best thing, it is important to water and care for the interconnected relationships that we have. Think of social media as planting the seed, it is up to us to water and care for the relationships that take root and grow. Being connected means to join together in a way that is so tight, it creates a safety net and a synergistic relationship that leads to making one another better. Connectedness is a two-way exercise. One party shouldn’t only be a taker or a giver. Connectedness goes both ways. Move beyond the 140 characters and foster those interconnected relationships. There are people around you waiting to connect. I guarantee that you will grow in ways that you would not have ever imagined!