Just wrapping up a wonderful extended weekend in West Palm Beach where one of my childhood friends (Larry) finally decided it was time to tie the knot. Actually this group of fine gentlemen you are looking at (Anthony, Larry, me, & "Skeeter") have shared some of life's most memorable moments all condensed from the years of gradeschool to college and beyond. Looking back, the roots trace back twenty plus years.
I caught up on my feeds tonight and there seems to be so much I could write about. USA Today has re-launched their site with social media optimization. Conference announcements are going out like crazy. There are videos that I need to make time for to watch. And I even have a few influential people out there waiting for me to send them stuff that would help get this blog on more people's radar.
All of that can wait.
Do you ever wonder how we can make friendships at certain points in our lives that are simply irreplaceable? Ever wonder why this is? Surely many of you can relate. We've all made friends early in life and have moved on to our new chapters of our own lives. Maybe we've started families or new careers in places far away. Maybe we just had to move away from home. But why is it that when we reunite—that we instantly connect and pick up where we left off?
Why does it all seem so familiar?
I don't have the answers. Certainly shared experience has a lot to do with it. My buddies and I quickly gathered around the tables and local watering holes and re-told the ridiculous stories which I can't begin to repeat here. Our girlfriends and wives followed along in amazement, horror, fascination and pure joy. We laughed harder than most of us have probably laughed in years. We felt more comfortable with each other than words can describe.
And then it hit me.
Is it even remotely possible that the digital relationships which we are actively forming could ever get close to this kind of connection? My knee jerk emotional reaction is to be repulsed by this idea. How could that ever replace the antics of our youths and the bonding that comes with it. No way. No way. Some things just can't be duplicated.
But what if?
My relatively new friend Ann Handley once wrote that a common act for bloggers who have connected over time and finally meet in person is to give the other person a hug. Is it possible that a shared experience is the actual experience of sharing? Before I go too far, let me just say that deep bonds like this are special for a reason. And even though Anthony, Larry, Skeeter and myself don't check in on an even remotely regular basis—we know that we'll probably all see each other like this many more times before we're through with life. In fact, we pledged to do something like this annually.
Shared experience is immensely powerful.
Assuming that relationships like this are special and not easily duplicated—still we have to imagine if we could capture but a small fragment of this in our relationships with users, with consumers, with each other. Imagine if just 3% of this pure emotion came though in all of our communications, interactions and touch points with customers. It's totally irrational. It makes no sense that a group of people who hardly talk during the year can get together and share this kind of quality time together. I'm in contact with more of you than I am with these guys.
Well, maybe that needs to change. And maybe what also needs to change is how we think about frequency vs. intimacy. And maybe I'm over thinking all of this. All I know is that I had an experience this weekend—and watching one of my childhood friends move into the next phase of his life is something that doesn't happen everyday.