Social networks are our front porches today.

The next time a friend or colleague who doesn’t enjoy social networks says to you “I don’t have time for Facebook,” or “I TALK to my friends” (usually delivered in a somewhat condescending tone) just casually invite them tovisit with you on your front porch. They may well respond with a “huh?”, and that’s ok, bcuz it’s your opening to depict a social network tool as a front porch — a place to talk with friends, families, those in your community, or just to read and relax.

I hadn’t thought of this porch analogy before for social networks, but it is perfect (our buddyStephen Abram probably used this metaphor long ago – he’s great with metaphors!).  FacebookTwitter and Skype reunite me with family I haven’t physically seen in years, and keep me in contact with friends, colleagues and new contacts all over the world conversing and sharing social and professional links and info.  Working “virtually” as we have for 17 years, Jane and I often don’t leave our home offices all day, but we’re certainly never alone with instant messaging and networking tools.  Our “neighbourhood or community” is huge, and people pass by or stop to discuss an issue or set up a meeting all day long – and often through the night when projects are due!

The Chair Academy’s Leadership Tips & Tools refers to Clifton Taulbert’s Eight Habits of the Heart in which porches are prominently featured as places for gathering, developing relationships, stories and memories. Today’s porches may be virtual or physical, from Facebook to student commons, to blogs of shared interests, to public library gathering spaces.

Porch dwellers, or those engaged in their “community” with strong relationships have “Social Well-Being”, which is one of the 5 factors of a healthy, well-lived life.  Tom Rath and James Harter’s Well-Being book and website reports on their comprehensive study of what shapes our lives:

  • Social Well-Being
  • Physical Well-Being
  • Financial Well-Being
  • Community Well-Being
  • Career Well-Being

And those networking tools that some people think are “a waste of time” contribute to our social, community, career and even our financial well-being. In fact, Rath and Harter found that People who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job as those who do not.” And most of my best friends are just a click away! No wonder I work such crazy hours and love my job!

So, the next time you get that smarky look from a non-Twitterarian, tell them Twitter is contributing to your well-being.

On my porch!

On my porch!

By they way, if you are in an college or university environment I encourage you to check out The Chair Academy.  I was fortunate to be asked to mentor a college library director in the Academy of Leadership & Development Program – fantastic learning and growth opportunity for both of us, and for anyone involved in post-secondary environments. Check it out – and then Facebook me about it!