Everything's Personal in the Social Media Era -- And I Love It

A few years ago, I had a really nasty experience in the world of business. It doesn't matter what the specifics of the incident were. All you need to know is that, at one point during a particularly painful discussion, someone paused and said to me, "I hope you realize this isn't personal. It's just business."

I was stunned. I had considered this other person to be a friend as well as a business associate. To learn, many years after the fact, that the friendship had been entirely one-sided wasn't merely embarrassing. It was humiliating.

I began to second-guess my instincts about people. I also started to question whether I was naive to think that I could build a business based on the quality of my relationships (my modus operandi until that rather devastating episode). 

Lucky for me, social media, with its emphasis on relationship building, became popular before I had the chance to conclude that all was lost on the relationships front. And, in the exciting new world of social media, everything about everything was personal, including the world of business.

Lucky for me, social media, with its emphasis on relationship building, became popular before I had the chance to conclude that all was lost on the relationships front. And, in the exciting new world of social media, everything about everything was personal, including the world of business.

I started thinking about this time in my life the other night while I was driving home from Canada's first 140 Conference (a conference which celebrates how relationships can be impacted by social media).

I was thinking about when I'm happiest (when I'm connecting with others in a powerful, highly personal way).

That made me think about what I love most about my work as a writer -- when I'm writing something that captures something that I feel strongly about and that I hope will elicit equally strong feelings in my reader. (When I have the privilege of hearing about how something I've written has affected someone's life, I get a chill. I feel an actual biological sensation. That tells me that I'm doing what I was meant to do -- to use my words to forge connections with others.)

Is that how it works for you? How do you know that you're on the right path -- doing the work that you were meant to do? (Or maybe you're not doing it yet: is a nagging feeling in your gut telling you that you should alter your course in some way?) Has the Internet played a role in allowing you to create connections with others? Has it opened new doors for you? I'd love to hear your stories. I hope you'll blog a response -- or post in the comments below. I'll be writing about these and other related themes in upcoming posts.