I've always enjoyed the idea of living in a small town, knowing my neighbors, having conversations with people I love and respect, feeling influential, and feeling connected to my surroundings. I enjoyed those feelings growing up in southern Indiana. I experienced those precious gifts night in and night out, whether it took the form of a waving neighbor as you're driving by, a "long time no see" beer on the house at Hardy's Cafe, or a trip to the grocery store that took 30 minutes too long because you talked to everyone in the store.
- Cue the music. -
Making your way in the world today
takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries,
sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
where everybody knows your name.
And they're always glad you came.
You want to be where people know,
people are all the same.
You want to be where everyone knows your name.
Twitter used to be Cheers for me. It was this little hole in the wall that connected me with some of the brightest and most interesting minds in the credit union world. We'd talk about credit union innovation. About technology. About the world of financial news. About politics. We made each other think, laugh, grow, and achieve. It had nothing to do with self-promotion...it had everything to do with self improvement.
Those days seem to be gone. Not the connections...those are here to stay. But Twitter is no longer Cheers. Shari Storm recently wrote on the CUES Skybox blog that Ashton Kutcher and CNN deserve a lot of the blame for making Twitter less special. In her post, Shari asks a wonderful question:
"Which is better, having a small group of people who love you a lot or a large group of people who are familiar with you?"
Without question, I'd rather have a small group of people I love (and that loves me) a lot. I have no doubt that's simply small-town Indiana coming out in me, but that's what made Twitter special to me. I still love Twitter, but in a much different way. It's now Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and the countless other social networking sites that have popped into our lives as the new flavor of the month. Each has been bastardized by self-promoters, sales people trying to sell to salespeople, "Britney Spears" sex tape SPAM, and "[fill in the blank] has sent you a gift" messages. Each, I have no doubt, will be replaced by the new flavor of the month when it arrives.
I have written several times on this blog about how much I disagree with some credit unions' "grow or go away" mentality. What I feel about Twitter these days only highlights my argument. The more popular things become, the less special they become. We each have a maximum number of relationships that we can maintain well. That number differs greatly from person to person, but I can almost assure you that it is much fewer than the number of followers you have right now on Twitter. I have created well-researched, graphical depictions of this phenomenon below:
Your value shouldn't be measured by the size of your network. Instead, you should focus on the strength of your connections. If you are able to manage more than my Cheers size network, so be it. Norm, Cliff, and I are content with the usual.