Choosing between Real Life and Real Life

by Angelique on September 10, 2012

woman texting at a bar - photo by Sean LockeOn Facebook and Twitter, people often debate the relative amounts of time one should spend online and offline. The situation is usually framed as a choice between talking to people online and talking to people face-to-face, with unique, live events considered more important than Internet events.

But what happens if the situation is turned inside-out? What if your choice is between watching a unique, live political event on television, and talking to people about business live on the Internet?This is the dilemma I faced last night, when I wanted to participate in a Twitter chat (where “unplugging” was ironically part of the conversation) at the same time that the Democratic National Convention was being broadcast live on television.

My choices were to actively converse with a small number of real people about a subject that matters to my career, or passively (mostly) joining an extremely large community of people watching the convention, a community that includes friends and family. (I say “passively (mostly)” because I like to tweet about television events.)

Screenshot of Jim Sinegal, former CEO of Costco, speaking at the 2012 Democratic National ConventionLast night I split the difference, participating in the chat, but leaving immediately afterwards (instead of staying and talking) so I wouldn’t miss any of the convention’s last hour of speakers, which included Jim Sinegal, co-founder of Costco, and Bill Clinton. (I knew Clinton would give a good speech, but I was really curious about what Sinegal was going to say! If you missed it, the transcript is here and the video is here.)

My decision was made easier by the fact that I could listen to anything I missed later online. Still, it’s not the same as sharing the moment with everyone else in the country.

I don’t have any important insights or conclusions about the choice between “real life” and “real life.” I just thought I would share a slice of my life, and see if anyone else had a similar experience.

P.S. Turns out I only tweeted twice during the convention:

CEO of @Costco not a great speaker, but gave a good speech! #2012DNC


“Poverty, discrimination and ignorance restricts growth”
~ Bill Clinton #2012DNC


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey E. Palmer September 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

I’m unclear as to what the two forms of “Real Life” are as alluded to in the title =/ I guess that both online and offline communication are aspects of “real life”?


Brian Rouley September 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm

This is true for me, too. There must be several permutations of this dilemma for all who use social media and have personal relationships to maintain. My wife and I are both heavily involved in networking groups that demand face-to-face interaction and we both want to spend time together discussing current events. We both also use social media to a large degree to maintain our connections with these same networking groups. So we often find ourselves at home, working separately in two different rooms, with the TV on and sometimes music, too, banging away on our keyboards to “keep in touch” with the virtual connections we maintain with our in person groups. Am I going in circles? Probably. But I get what you mean. Real life today is a constant conundrum of what or which to do to achieve the desired result. It seems we will be destined to continue these practices until we understand the payoff. Me, I so look forward to the face-to-face meetings, as I love to speak just a little more than I love to write.
Thanks for listening. Your input is so valuable to me. BR


Angelique September 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Thanks, Brian! Interesting story. Perhaps you and your wife can join the same chats! I taught my husband to use Twitter, and now he joins me for #AskAngel and other chats. Around here, the face-to-face networking gets less and less useful all the time, so I’ve been skipping all networking events in favor of far more helpful and interesting Twitter events. (Live social events are another matter!)


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