There’s great post on John Stahl’s Journal about the way Facebook, Twitter and similar tools can influence our social relationships:
Direct online interaction robs the very important inattentive trust building components to relationships. Twitter, facebook, etc. provide a unique window into watching someone without paying direct attention to them. How many of you log on to do work late at night and â€œseeâ€ in AIM list and Skype list folks that are still online working. Does that over time build your relationship with that person in any way? Does a facebook update on someone going hiking at a place you have hiked before influence your interaction with that person next time you meet even thought you never discuss the hike? Yes.
This is becoming more and more important. I’ve been seeing it more and more that interesting news, ideas, conversations and relevant contacts are coming through these semi-live channels, and sometimes from folks I’ve only (or in the first place) known through these same channels. And I guess it makes sense, “in a fucked-up internet way” (loving the quote, really): It’s pretty much a two-step process of identifying peers and cool folks. First, as of now there’s still an early adaptor bonus for micro blogging tools and savvy social network users, which of course in this area is a good start. But second, and more important, is that by following other people’s streams (life streams / feeds / updates, whatever you call it), and by sharing yours, you get a good impression of how they tick, and vice versa. Not in a stalker-ish way, but inattentively.