It's no secret that at least 60 percent of us have come to embrace the Internet and use some form of social media to communicate on a daily basis.
You laugh, you learn, you verify, you discover, you explore, you observe and you experience a new type of relationship with the world.
So, I have to ask you, do you find yourself more engaged in the discussions and conversations you experience on the internet than you do in the drama of everyday face to face life?
Have you developed a "virtual" sphere of influence?
Have you become respected among your peers?
Have you become a leader, an expert or an authority in your online business circles?
So how do you handle your cyberspace relationships?
I ran across an intriguing article by Michael O'Donnell, the Managing Director at Thesis Ventures.
He posted it on the LinkedIn website, which I considered the most "buttoned-up" and conservative of all social media networking sites.
In it, he considers the "friend request."
Here is an otherwise innocuous sounding process that is incredibly more complicated once you scratch below the surface of what it asks.
As he states:
"I get about five or six requests to connect with people on LinkedIn every day. I consider each and every request in the spirit I hope others will consider my requests to connect with them. I use to accept invitations only from those I know -- or at least have met in person. I abandoned that policy because I myself have requested to connect with people on LinkedIn that I do not know and have not met, because I think there is a basis for mutual interest. It only seems fair that I should thoughtfully consider requests from people whom I do not know (yet).
I review the profiles of each person who invites me to connect. I generally accept invitations that are authentic and relevant to my professional endeavors."
He goes on to list the reasons why he won't accept an invitation.
In other words, if you don't meet certain protocol he won't become your "friend."
And remember, this is a business oriented platform, not really a place for personal social interaction.
The entire equation becomes even more complicated when you begin to travel through the more purely social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pheed.
These sites pose a completely different paradigm don't they?
Do you get "butt hurt" when you don't get a response to your requests?
Do you feel "less of a man" because someone else has more Twitter followers?
Do you actually feel slighted by folks that don't want you as their "friend?"
Does that make you angry?
How do you get pissed off at someone you have never even talked to face to face?
I think it's time for everyone to take a serious look at how they are going to navigate the electronic highway of the future.
For some reason, I don't find it hard to envision future outbreaks of "internet road rage."
Do we need the government to step in and develop mandated protocols and conventions to regulate our contacts in the global net village?
Please, I hope not.
Let me know how you decide and develop your online relationships.
Do you have a set standard of engagement rules already in place?
Are you as serious about who can be your internet friend as you are in real life?
Or, do you find it an awesome ego boost in having thousands of totally anonymous Facebook followers salivating over your next brilliant "dancing kitten" post?
You know, it makes me wonder.
Do you think there a future comeback for our childhood friend Mr. Rogers?
Won't you be my "virtual" neighbor.
Send me a friend request will you?
Then I'll let you know what I think.