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Surrounded by memories

Posted: August 23, 2012 - 12:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I came across a familiar quote by Jim Rohn recently: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s a good reminder of the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who inspire, challenge, motivate, teach and support us – and for whom we do the same. Yet it left me wondering about how the evolution of communications and technology has changed not only who we are surrounded by, but just exactly how we “surround” ourselves.
What about those hundreds, maybe thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and Linked In Connections? Or the celebrities – real or pseudo – that we follow? They seem to have a lot of influence for so many people and companies … if you believe the surveys.  
I thought about the people who are most frequently hanging out in my living room, across the table at my favorite restaurant, strolling through the park … and the ones who are always just a phone call, skype chat or email away.
Today, on what would have been his 50th birthday, I thought most about my brother. He is never far from my thoughts, but that’s got nothing to do with technology; that’s just my memory. His wisdom and humor impact my perspectives and decisions every day. He is certainly among the most influential people in my life – his values, humor, love and support have definitely influenced who I am.
It would be impossible to name just two more. There are so many people – my parents, friends, colleagues, clients, maybe even a celebrity or two, but today it is enough to remember Steve … and to remember that, even if it is for too short a time, each person brings a lesson.


Spoiler Alert: Accident

Posted: August 9, 2012 - 5:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Traditional and new media sometimes struggle with the balance between getting the news out first and getting it right, but what is the impact of “citizen journalists” reporting on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets? Timely, in light of … well, pretty much everybody’s complaints about coverage of the Olympics, this week’s blog post by team member Patty Keiler shares a lesson and poses a sure-to-be-interesting question.

While on vacation last week, I’d been secretly enjoying my poor cell phone connection. But while waiting for the coffee to brew on the last morning, I got the itch to see if Facebook would update. Surprisingly it did, and I immediately started scrolling. Several updates in, I saw where my second cousin was asking her “friends” to please pray for her mom and aunt because they were in a car wreck. I was obviously concerned for them, but tears took over when it later hit me that my cousin’s aunt would be my mom.

Her update indicated minor injuries, but I still felt scared and overwhelmed by how impersonal it felt to learn about this on Facebook — just behind a couple hundred other people.

Turns out, my mom — who lives two states away and routinely texts me with a head’s up that she’s going into a movie or church — and my cousin had been in a serious accident, but they were ok. My mom knew my cell connection was poor and she didn’t want to ruin my last day of vacation by worrying me. So, she was going to wait to tell me her news once I was home. But is that still a realistic option in the age of social media?

How many of you recently found yourselves cursing updates that spoiled a good night of Olympic watching? Or finding out about a new baby, a break-up or lost job via Facebook (or Twitter etc.)?

Be it good, bad, or just plain odd, we want to hear your stories. What were you surprised to learn from social media?