Alone but not lonely

by Penny Power on November 7, 2011 · 2 comments

As I sit at home on my laptop, the hum of the computer server in the background and the occasional movement from one of my dogs I don’t feel lonely but I am alone. Loneliness is something I have feared all my life, it has limited me and it has driven me. But here and now, alone in my house I still feel connected.

I am a people person. I am in my flame when among people. I love nothing more than the buzz of a coffee shop, the noise of a train station, the throb of a networking meeting. I get my energy from people. Yet, I can sit at home ‘alone’ and I don’t feel isolated.

When I packed my daughters ‘stuff’ in the car to drive her to University last week, the first time in 19 years she will have been alone, I said to her ‘my girl, please remember you are not lonely, you may have time when you are alone, but never feel lonely’. She understood, she is connected.

I often imagine what life would be like for me if I did not have the online world to tap into and chat with throughout the day. How lonely would I feel then? What type of business would I, could I, have created without the Internet.

The fact is, we all have a chance to be connected to great people whenever we want. The skill is how to develop a real connection, not just a contact list. Recently I spoke to 400 University Students and I shared my beliefs and philosophy of the ‘connected world’. At the end of my talk a student bravely put his hand up and said that despite having hundreds of ‘friends’ on FaceBook, he was very lonely. It was a terribly moving moment, one that still brings tears to my eyes as I type this.

The reality is that the world does not completely understand the promise and the gift of the Internet, some very lucky people do. I count myself as one of those few. There seems to be a Gold Rush mentality to build lists and conquer networks, yet those people are building empty promise, seduced by the notion that maybe someone is actually listening to there noise and broadcasts.

The world is polarized by two types of people ‘ the ‘task-driven people’, and the ‘relationship-driven people’; I will call these the Red’s and the Blue’s (hoping that there is no link here to a football team). So let’s take the Red’s first, the task driven people.

The RED is very driven to achieve, they have goals and lists and manage resources and people with processes They see the Internet as a productivity and transactional tool; hands-off, automated methods of connecting. They are the people who bribe their customers to ‘LIKE their FaceBook page, offering them a free draw for an iPad if they do. The Internet is a dream to them; they can keep their costs low, automate tweets, hire people to Blog and can create awesome manipulative ‘Internet marketing traps to go from ‘suspects to prospects to customers’.

Then there are the Blue’s, they are the relationship people, these people are not measuring or strategizing, they are purely building friendships with people who in time get to know the passions and values of one another and over time begin to seek out opportunities for one another. They are not ‘hunting’ all the time online, they are seem to be ‘wasting their time’, yet, when they need something doing, want to gain some knowledge, need some help, as if by magic the right person at the right time steps forward – wow, the RED’s say ‘that is a coincidence’ and the BLUES’s say ‘that is serendipity.

And I say ‘that is social capital’

So, next time you are online, think about why you are there, think about the message here and perhaps you will nod and say ‘I get it’ and if that happens’ thank you, the world has just become more connected, one by one.

Penny Power
Penny Power is the Founder of Ecademy and Digital Youth Academy, two communities that assist in the growth of Social Capital and deliver the promise of the Internet through their community values and peer to peer knowledge exchange. Penny is now focusing on the skills gap that exists within the business community toward leveraging the social digital world and you can follow her on Twitter @pennypower or sign up for her newsletter on www.pennypower.co.uk

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Parkinson-Hardman December 13, 2011 at 12:04

I love the phrase ‘Social Capital’ it covers so many disparate subject areas but the most cohesive is the one that Penny suggests here – the capital that is invested in our sociability as humans. We have always been driven by the need for acceptance and integration by our local communities, whether they be neighbours, friends, family or business and this is no different on the web. As Penny points out the value of the Internet is in the relationships that it facilitates, sure it’s great for getting information but that information usually comes from someone who is willing to share their knowledge, expertise and experience without worrying that someone will steal their ‘intellectual capital’. Let’s go even more social is all I say :-)

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Penny Power January 3, 2012 at 10:40

Thank you Joseph, what lovely words to share. I am very blessed to have a network that I created in 10998 for small businesses called Ecademy and they encourage my writings and beliefs.

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