Thursday, 10 January 2013

2013 - Get Real!

2013 - Get Real!

Another new year and early talk on the forums revolves around what’s going to be the next big thing. In research world, the tendency has been to big up all things virtual once more – let’s build pretend communities, let’s get people interacting as and when they feel like it, let’s invent games for them to play and then interpret them as if we’re fully trained psychiatrists. The list goes on.

Obviously I read these things and familiarise myself with potential new techniques which might be useful as part of my researcher’s kit bag. At times I even worry that I really am becoming that dinosaur which some ‘modern’ researchers would have me cast as.

And then I read a blog in a Harvard Business magazine which serves to inspire rather than to depress. Here there’s talk of the value of meeting people face-to-face, rather than ‘chatting’ over the ether. Here there’s talk of the value in the quality of conversation and communication, and not just in the quantity.

This sets me thinking about my own recent connections and reconnections with friends and family, some of which have been in person and some of which have been via various social networking sites.

It serves to remind me that the personae which some people use on the likes of Facebook can be very different from the person they are when you meet them face-to-face. It helps me to remember that whilst some can come across as very positive in the way they present themselves online, when you scratch the surface face-to-face, this can mask a whole host of issues they are facing in their day-to-day lives.

It turns out, for example, that one of my ‘friends’ has had one of the worst years of his life and I only get chance to find that out when we’re chatting in person rather than ‘bantering’ online. It also turns out that another ‘friend’, whilst appearing the life and soul from their social network ‘identity’, in real life leaves parties early and spends most of their time when at said parties interacting with virtual friends they can’t actually see.

What all of this does most of all is to reinforce my view on the fact that there is nothing more valuable, both in life and in research, than in meeting people face-to-face and getting to know them for real and not just for virtual.

So here’s my pledge for 2013. I’ll continue to engage with all things social media – I enjoy Facebook, I’m growing to love Twitter and I can see a great deal of value in LinkedIn.
But I’ll also remember that there’s nothing better both in life and in research than saying ‘let’s meet up and have a ‘proper’ chat.’

So yeah, I’m going to get more real in the year ahead and why don’t you?!

Happy New One!