What Social Media Will Never Do For You


I love social media. It has changed my professional as well as personal life. I have made new friends, found new clients, and re-connected with my Brazilian high school as well as my American college friends. It’s by far one of the most significant shifts in human interactivity I have ever experienced. Because of it the world has become small, very small.  In most cases, I recommend and encourage my clients to be active in social media whether they are business leaders, ministry heads, authors, or performers. I have taught social media seminars for years to leaders all over the world. But even at its best, social media was never intended to replace face-to-face interactivity, and the sooner we understand that, the better off we are.

social media

As I considered how far we have taken our online interactivity, here’s a few things it can never do for us:

A post on your Facebook wall will never be able to look deep into your eyes and see the pain you’re feeling.

A Skype call cannot hold your hand or hug you close.

A Twitter DM is not able to unpack the complexity of a tough day or a difficult loss.

A YouTube video cannot sit quietly next to you and enjoy just being together.

A Twitpic of your best meal ever will never be a memory shared, but an opportunity lost.

A blog post might share your heart with the world when what you really need is to share your soul with someone.

If it weren’t for my online presence, I would not have met some great friends. But as I looked into a friend’s eyes, held his hand, and prayed with him, I was reminded of how meaningful the human experience can be.

What other area(s) are we trying to use social media where it cannot deliver?

  • Excellent!
    There is something uniquely powerful about skin. Here is something I have seen. I have a teenage son who my husband and I want to teach to be a strong leader with a servants heart. We can have him read "How to Win Friends and Influence People, subscribe to Michael Hayatt's blog, watch video clips or webinars on leadership but nothing imacts and imprints him more than seeing it modeled right before his eyes in daily relationship.
    Thanks for this great reminder.

    • I like your phrase of "uniquely powerful about skin." I agree.

    • rmwright70

      so true… nicely put.

  • So true.

    I think we use it is a way to avoid actually being with our remote family members. Not the ones that live with us, but the others…crazy Aunt Sue etc. You remember hopping in the car for Thanksgiving, driving countless hours to eat at their house, and then driving home only to wonder who Uncle Bob really is….is he really my Uncle???? Please tell me those aren't my cousins.

    Now, you can just connect on Facebook and keep everyone happy. The so-called cousins think they are still your cousins and you can just tell your friends, "hey, they just think they are" and no one knows the difference…just don't post it in comments 🙂

    Only downside is Facebook doesn't cook turkey that you can actually eat.

    Totally random thoughts for the day!

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  • I think this is by far your best post yet.

  • Ministering can only go so far online~ it crushed me to 'meet' someone online (only online)~ know the pain He is experiencing and Not being able to sufficiently comfort Him like He needs~ Much needed Eye contact, touch of the hand with a warm hug with the words "M~ I Understand, and I am Here for you… So I had to walk away with a prayer (God Help Him~Bring Physical people across His Path who can help)… This article is so right on… Thanks for posting it~ God Bless

  • An angry blog, youtube, or Facebook comment will never replace the ability to disagree healthily. Malcom Gladwell wrote a NY Times article recently on what social media has done to our culture. One of them being, stifling angry passion and healthy frustration that takes action. Instead of a conversation being an outlet for people, the internet becomes a cognitive landfill. We must continue to disagree with one another in a healthy way instead of just shutting down and walking away. Good face-to-face conversation and communication will be invaluable in the future. Thanks for the great post.

  • rmwright70

    Great post!

    What concerns me most is when I see (or am tempted myself) to use social media or text messaging for communications that would be much better received if done face-to-face. Examples include telling someone that they've hurt you or offering an apology. Using technology to communicate these sensitive messages is at best a lazy convenience and at worst a true cop-out.

    On top of the importance to share these sentiments in person is the concern for privacy. Most of these communications have no place on our facebook walls.

    • There's a lot of inappropriate communication that happen when people try to have meaningful and personal dialogs through text or Facebook. Good point.

  • You totally captured a great point with this post. Well done!

    For me, social networks are just compliments to physical relationships – not a supplement for.

    But, I have encountered many situations where the person on the other end may not have anyone there near them to hold or hug or sit beside so their only feeling of connectedness comes from what they do online. In those instances I have seen how powerful a social network interaction can be for THEM if we are willing to invest even a little digital love via a caring and uplifting email or Facebook message or maybe even a phone call. It may not be the best way but for them, it might be the only way they have. That breaks my heart to know there are so many lonely people out there but sadly, they are.

  • I agree Maurilio. Social media is either an entry or touch point to those we want connected to our lives. It serves to extend what is possible IRL.. I am just grateful that all this is happening in this day and time so i can be part of it!

  • Wow, I actually teared up a bit reading this post, because I can SO relate. I do love how social mediums keep me connected while I am so far from home here in China, & have been amazed at how connected the Body is & how ready we are to support strangers because of our common bond.

    But, I have also experienced lately extreme bouts of anguish, sadness & utter loneliness where I end up in sobs & would give just about anything to just have someone put their arms around me, hold my hand or just listen IN PERSON. This is a constant struggle for this very relational girl.

    I am also currently in a long distance, multi-cultural relationship where we have to depend on very sporadic Internet to have a conversation & that is extremely challenging. I wish we were just able to be in the same room, looking at each other as we try to figure out life.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Blessings~

  • Great post! As Daniel Decker has aptly put it, these are compliments to our relationships. I think it opens doors that otherwise would not even be available, but we must take those connections to another level if the relationship is to be significant. I wrote about the use of social media in the ministry world in a recent post.

  • Amen. Thank you for the reminder to stay rooted in the real world.

    I have been blessed by social media as well since it allows me to stay in touch with friends and family across the US. In the midst of a busy chapter in life (family + work + MBA) it has been a lifeline of sorts.

    That being said you're right. Getting to look a friend in the eye and put your hand on their shoulder can't be done via Twitter.

  • Great post and reminder!!

  • Very true. I have consciously tell myself to dial a number sometimes instead of text. And I have to make even more effort to stop chatting with my "neighbors" on facebook and just go over and see them. I would rather sit with a friend and say nothing than type empty words with them on instant message

  • Bert

    Great thoughts Maurillio. I too love social media, but love even more the deeper connections with people that require a deeper level of time and commitment. When used right Social Media can be great, but it does have its limits. I received a letter a couple years ago from a friend that was hand written on beautiful parchment and sealed with wax and signet. I still have it in my drawer and will probably never get rid of it.

  • Love the thought “compliment and not supplement”

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