On A Digital Life and Real Connections

It’s sad to think that the motivation for me to post is the passing of a colleague in the Social Media World.  Many of you may know that Trey Pennington passed away on Sunday, taking his own life.  He will, as so many have pointed out, be missed.

What saddens me is that his death points out the potential trap we fall into online – that we are not alone if we have a lot of friends, followers, connections.

Trey is not the first person I’ve know over the past 10 years that lived a vibrant life online and a troubled one “behind the screen.”  It’ important to note that I didn’t know Trey well enough to comment further on this point about him.

Throughout my career first as a traditional PR guy and now as a PR/social media speaker/author and consultant, I have reminded anyone that would listen to “pick up the phone” and call their connections.  Bring the online friendship to real life.  I can’t tell you how many people are shocked when I suggest that to them.  It’s as if the in-person aspect of everyday living is a foreign idea.

Am I perfect in this regard?  Far from it.  I have a significant number of direct connections on LinkedIn and Twitter and only converse with a handful each week.  But, I do make the effort.  Whenever someone says “we should catch up,” I often work to set up a Skype or direct call to do just that.

I encourage all of us to do MORE of just that.  Pick up the phone. Set up a Skype video chat.  But more importantly, ask the connection how you can be of service to them.  And, remember to talk about them – not you.

You never know what life you might affect, what friendship you might deepen or rekindle, and what a difference you might make.

Pay it forward today by connection directly with an online-only connection.  Make the effort.  You’ll be glad you did.

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