What I learned about social media–and online dating– from my Thanksgiving vacation

Deep inside Silicon Valley, working at a high tech company, it’s easy to think everyone is constantly online, reading blogs, podcasting, bookmarking and what have you. After 5 days in New York, with people who are as information hungry and of the moment as everyone I know back home, I’ve formed some observations on the educated general populace at large:
Everyone does online dating, and if they haven’t they’re thinking about it because it worked well for people they know. Over the holiday, at least 5 people either told me about their online dating experiences, asked me for tips on making online dating work better for them, and/or told me about how their good friend had met someone online and –surprise!–gotten married. Yep, it’s here to stay.
Many people over 40 don’t really pay attention to social networks, unless their kids have a MySpace page, they’re in the music business or they’re interested in (viral) marketing. The low resonance of social networks for the friends and family I interacted with other the holiday was fascinating. While in Silicon Valley my friends debate the relative value–and feature sets–of one SN compared to another–just about no one I encountered over my NYC holiday had much to say about connecting virtually, using online to help plan offline events, or even using LinkedIn for job hunting.
Everyone gets blogs–they are the new magazine article/press release and promotional footage, all rolled into one. Everyone I met knew all about blogging, read blogs, and had considered starting one(even if no one did.) One friend–who’s the boss of a media company– said “I am going to ask everyone at work who wants to have a blog–I’m already planning mine for Jan. 1.”
YouTube is the new Candid Camera meet the digital public library for everyone under 18, and the buzz is loud enough that the grown-ups are listening. When I asked my nephews (8-13) where they went to find music videos, TV shows like South Park and movie clips, they all said YouTube. As I helped them search for legal clips to watch, they had no problem downloading files and clicking so the videos went full screen. We got together with a bunch of 9 year olds and they were all experienced watching video and film clips on their machines!
I pay alot more attention to bloggers’ voices than do my friends and family in New York. I was going nuts for those few days I had trouble going online and it wasn’t because I wanted to read my email, it’s because I’ve grown addicted(this week proved that) to the conversations on the blogs. Techmeme, tailrank, digg and bloglines are my information crack and while bloggers’ voices might be just alot of extra data to my NYTimes reading family and friends, you know what? I gotta have’em.
Busy human beings, are, by definition, fast followers. For many adults, the biggest problem they have is lack of time. This means that every new technology innovation, every new social media tool, is tried at the expense of something else. For many people this means experimentation has few rewards–even if they like the cool new tools–they probably won’t have time to use them anyway. So why not wait until the value of the coolest, most useful new things is dramatically clear and let the rest dwindle away?

Latest Comments

  1. D. Yousuf says:

    Your observations are quite right, Susan. Online dating is here to stay. But one word of advise, whether you are using Valenti International or Yahoo Personals, diversifying ensures you are not putting all your emotional eggs into one basket.

  2. cDilla says:

    I agree with a few of you observations. Though I do not have much experience with online dating, I’ve met a few girlfriends on the internet, and besides being convenient, I do feel that its here to stay and is huge.
    Also, I definitely agree with your last point. Busy people such as all of us usually have to give up something else to experiment with something new. I don’t know how some people stay on top of everything so new.

  3. Grace Lee says:

    Thanks, I didn’t know about Confabb!

  4. Dave Sanford says:

    Nice post, Susan. Thanks for the trans-continental insights. I’m constantly reminding myself to think outside of our little fishbowl in silicon valley. If you haven’t seen it already, Josh Kopelman wrote a very insightful post on this topic last may:
    http://redeye.firstround.com/2006/05/53651.html

  5. charla howard says:

    I just found your lively blog through Dave Evans’ Corante, and am so glad that I did. Your observations on online dating echo my own, and are the premises on which I just invested my $’s and much of the past two years’ energy to launch a new, “better mouse-trap” dating site. Please check it out and tell me what you think!

  6. Amy Gahran says:

    Dating? What’s dating?
    Seems to me I just have conversations and connections, and things grow out of that…
    I dunno. Maybe it’s just me (and I may be from Mars) but I never really “got” the whole “dating” concept…
    Which probably explains why I’m sitting home alone tonight, Netflixing Battlestar Galactica…
    :-)
    Hope you’re well, Susan
    – Amy

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