Saturday, March 13, 2010

More or Less Social

I've been participating in the PR Student Chat, a monthly feature run by a great group of public relations professionals, educators and students on Twitter (Twitter hashtag: #prstudchat – a somewhat less than apt abbreviation, but that's Twitter for you).

I've "met" a number of folks via the chat, including Josh Morris, a senior at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and soon-to-be PR pro. Several of Josh's post-chat tweets intrigued me.

"What's more relevant these days: my real name or my Twitter handle? I'm tempted to include both on everything I do," Josh tweeted, followed shortly thereafter by "And trust me, more people know me by my Twitter handle than by my birth name. Is this where we're headed for good?

I wondered about those questions. Social media applications like Facebook and Twitter have certainly extended our social "range." Just a few clicks and I was part of a list of PR educators – a list that would have taken who-knows-how-long to assemble just a few years ago. But in our quest for more breadth on the social spectrum – following or friending more people, being followed or friended by more – are we sacrificing depth in those relationships, simply for lack of time? Are we now more social in theory and less social in practice?

In a way, I suppose this trend simply mirrors a slower evolution in media consumption habits over a generation or two. The lengthy newspaper piece that left you flipping to find the jump page gave way to the 90-second television news story that now gets repeated in the 30-second or less web clip. In the process, our understanding of key issues like the economy has increasingly narrowed to the width of a foot path – particularly among young people.

Is the same thing happening with social media? Will we "know" a greater number of people by their Twitter handle more so than their name, as Josh suggests? I would tend to agree. Whether that's good or bad for us remains to be seen. Josh, I'm glad to have met you. Someday I hope to shake your hand.

My thanks to Josh Morris for permission to quote his tweets. You can find him at @PRjoshmorris on Twitter or on his blog at

1 comment:

PRjoshmorris said...

Paul - Thank you so much for the compliments and for elaborating on my ideas! I agree with your point of more social in theory than in practice, but have a different story developing. I'm in SF and went to a PRSA mixer I was invited to via Twitter DM by @PRSAsanfran. While there I met the Chapter president and other members whom I most likely would not have until further down the road in my career and after joining the SF Chapter myself. Also, next week I have four informational interviews that stemmed from Twitter engagement and conversation. These are both examples of how SM can be social in practice, but it definitely is up to the user to take it to that next level-from theory to fact. Thank you again for such a great post and mentioning me in it! I'm glad to have met and engage with you as well and hope the handshake happens IRL one day too. -Josh