Changing the Definition of Friend

Yesterday in my sukkah, my Your People team had a strategy meeting about our clients and in particular we had a long brainstorming about the social media aspect of what we do. I have long espoused the notion that marketing and business-building needs a three-pronged approach: in person, online and “in print” (mailers, articles, handouts, etc.).

Why? Because you can’t simply sit behind a computer screen and expect people to grow fond of your product or service. You can’t expect a distant closeness, a virtual relationship (which means an almost-relationship) to include longevity, loyalty or frankly, even much memory.

In front of you fast, out of mind fast.

The other night on the most recent episode of The Good Wife, two successful women characters were having a conversation. One, the business magnate who owns the law firm’s building, says, “Would you like to have a drink with me?”

The other, the politician’s wife and successful attorney, says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m married.”

The first woman, flustered, responds, “I wasn’t asking you out.” And she stumbles over an explanation that she doesn’t have many friends and she just thought they could meet for a drink to … you know … talk. Become friends.

To which the second woman says, “OH! I’d love to have a drink with you.”

We live in a society where distance is prized, emotion is best kept at bay and so we’ve been flung into an online world where we exclaim and complain and beg for attention. We post pictures of our children from … everywhere. We demand attention. Because we’re lacking it elsewhere in our lives.

Yesterday in the sukkah, one of my colleagues said, “Maybe we need to change the definition of friend.” Meaning that what we do on Facebook – friend, unfriend – may not be the same as what the woman in the TV episode was asking for.

And therein lies the problem with so many of our businesses. You can have lots of “friends,” but no real friends. And if it’s just a big number that you click on, what is going to compel you to patronize a business or support a cause?

Perhaps we need a new definition of friendship.

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