Can Social Networks provide Emotional Wealth?

The following is a copy of my response to a blog post by Ecademy’s Thomas Power which asked the question, “Can Social Networks provide Emotional Wealth?

It is an interesting question on many levels that surprisingly finds its elemental roots as far back as 1916, when L.J. Hanifan first talked about social capital and “social potentiality.”

Having been released this past week with considerable fanfare in the UK,  author and Ecademy Founder Penny Power’s new book “Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me” observes a number of  Hanifan’s key principles through a current day lens (and in the context of emerging technologies).

While some may lament that social networks have negatively and irreparably undermined the very relationship between an individual and his or her community that was so valued by Hanifan, Power’s adept ability to maintain in her writing the humanistic sensitivities that are normally associated with personal contact would cause one to reconsider that view.

For this reason, Hanifan’s core principles and Power’s book “transcends both time and technology.”

On this basis alone, Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me is a “Must Read.”

Know Me Like Me Follow Me Cover

In 1916, L.J. Hanifan defined the concept of Social Capital as being, “..that in life which tends to make these tangible substances count for most in the daily lives of people: namely good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit… The individual is helpless socially, if left to himself… If he comes into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors.”

A 2006 Forrester Report about social computing used the term “groundswell” to refer to “a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need-information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power–from each other.”

This of course raises the question, is Hanifan’s 1916 definition regarding social networking a reflection of its true intent that is best achieved or realized through a face-to-face interaction, or does our current technology driven mediums, while lacking in the realm of up front and personal contact, deliver greater business and social value to what has become a global community? This is “The Psychology of Social Networking.”

As you know Thomas, the above is an excerpt from my opening remarks from the June 4th PI Window on Business segment in which Penny was joined by bestselling author Patrice-Anne Rutledge and social media guru Andrew Ballenthin to talk about areas such as the one posed by your question today.

The short answer would be yes. However, the journey to that affirmative response is largely dependent upon the attitude of service and value one brings to the medium.

In a recent series of interviews which included Blog Talk Radio and long time media industry veteran Philip Recchia, who amongst his many accomplishments created and produced “CNBC Student Stock Tournament,” an educational program for grade school and high school students that yeilded $3 million in sponsorship revenue in its second year, and won a Beacon Award from the Cable TV Public Affairs Association for Best Use of a Web Site in Cable Programming, and “Twitterville” author Shel Israel it is clear that traditional broadcasting, and a shout out of “look at me” does not work. Like Recchia’s Student Stock Tournament which first provided the promise of increased knowledge and yes, even entertainment and then delivered, success on multiple levels including emotional wealth begins and is therefore an extension of a giving individual spirit.

The “social potentiality,” and the “tangible substances” which include “good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse,” is a community achievement based entirely on an attitude of making a tangible and positive contribution on an individual basis.

Given that Hanifan’s observations were made in 1916, long before the concept of social media was even a faint glimmer in society’s collective consciousness would tend to indicate that the core principles transcend both time and technology.

That said, and in the spirit of the old hymn which goes “it only takes a spark to get a fire going,” social media and in particular Ecademy is that spark in our present era.

By the way, use the On-Demand Player below to access the June 4th segment “The Psychology of Social Networking” in which Penny Power was joined by bestselling author Patrice-Anne Rutledge and social media guru Andrew Ballenthin to discuss the impact that social networking has had on us from both a business as well as personal standpoint.

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