Are 140 Characters Considered a Bonding Moment?

Have you ever noticed that when you are speaking with your colleagues that much of the conversation revolves around surface level things? Things such as the weather, project updates, weekend plans, and the recipe for the great veggie dip from the potluck lunch.

As improbable as it sounds, it seems like there are often more in-depth conversations going on within social media sites like facebook and Twitter than between colleagues in the workplace. There seems to be a shift in how we interact with each other that is taking place. This new form of conversation can reveal a more authentic side of people. Is it because it is easier to connect with others who you may not know? When I sit down and stare at my Twitter home page I am 140 characters away from connecting with hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world. This is appealing in many ways for us as we truly enjoy connecting with people. Technology has made connecting with individuals from anywhere in the world very easy to do. The dark side of this is that when we log off Twitter or facebook we can feel like we are missing something. Are we missing an opportunity to bond with someone?

The 4-drive theory shows us that the drive to bond is a fundamental human drive. People can recognize and understand it immediately when it is happening real time. As human beings we have a drive to connect with other people and the depth of those connections will vary based upon your relationships with them. We bond differently with different people, at different points in our lives and for different reasons. The common aspect is the desire to have a positive relationship with other another human being. We do this through sharing stories, exchange ideas, and listening to one another.

The question is this – how does technology impact our drive to bond? Can the drive to bond be satisfied 140 characters at a time? Do we need to have the happy-hour hang out scene after work in order for this drive to be filled, or can we bond effectively without ever meeting a person face-to-face? Is technology becoming just another avenue for us to bond or is it shifting the very nature of the bonding experience?

Based upon our limited experience, we feel that technology is shifting the very nature of our interactions. The ability to share thoughts and ideas with the world, changes how we communicate. That change can also impact how we connect with others. It provides opportunities for greater sharing and more revealing conversations. For many people, it is easier to tweet about a thought or idea than it would be to share that thought or idea coworkers. On this level, it can foster greater bonds. However, we’ve also realized that there is power to having face-to-face sharing. When Susan attended Blogwell, she met many tweeters on the bus and at the conference and because of the human aspect of meeting them in person, she was able to bond faster and with more trust. The real potential, as we see it, is in being able to meld these two forms and garner both the emotional aspects of face-to-face bonding with the deeper insight and discussion that often comes with the help of the electronic word.

We would welcome your thoughts and comments?