Some new thoughts on the "Atomization of Conversation"
About a year ago, right after Facebook launched its Platform, I started telling my wife about Facebook. She didn't get it. While she understood how it could be useful to college kids, she just didn't understand how it could be relevant/useful to adults. In order to show her the benefits of the site, I set up a Facebook account for her. But given her predisposition, my expectations for her longevity on Facebook were very low.
Surprisingly, however, my wife started to use the site. She slowly but surely connected with old friends from grade school, summer camp and college. She connected online with our neighbors and parents of our kids' friends. She started playing Scrabulous with her mother and sister. She even started updating her Facebook Status. She now has over 250 friends on the site, and it's part of her daily routine.
This past week has been a really bad week for us. On Saturday, I learned that my Grandmother passed away. On Sunday morning, our seven-year old daughter awoke with sharp pain in the lower right-hand corner of her stomach. Fearing appendicitis, we took her to the hospital, and they operated. Her recovery took longer than expected -- and she was in the hospital for six days.
I canceled my calls and meetings and basically disconnected from the Internet for the week. The only hint I gave was a brief Twitter message. My wife also cleared her calendar -- but she provided some Facebook updates about the situation.
And what happened next really amazed me. Her phone started ringing with calls of support and help. Friends offered to pick-up and drop-off our son at school. Home-cooked dinners arrived at our house. Balloons, stuffed animals, and cards arrived at the hospital room. Old friends from high school and college called her saying that they were there to listen if she wanted to vent or talk.
Her brief Facebook status update was all it took to activate her real-world support network. It was incredible.
Last week (just hours before this whole ordeal began) I wrote a post about the "Atomization of Conversation" in which I worried about the effects of asynchronous communication resulting from things like Twitter and Facebook Status updates.
However, after witnessing how a 90-character update can unleash such a torrent of concern, support and love -- I now know we have nothing to fear from the atomization of conversation. Rather, it's just the opposite. As tools get created to atomize our interactions, they provide a much easier, much faster way for us to react to the events in others' lives.
My daughter is home recovering -- and I'm going to go play with her now...