The power of the internet to make connections between individuals and groups is obvious and immediately clear to anyone who’s been offline for two days and come back to find their inbox inundated with unread mail. This week something happened to reinforce my awareness of that power.
I recently completely overhauled my family website, themanningfamily.com. The website is a personal project that I took on to maintain connections with my four sisters. It looks like many family sites with photos of family outings, trips, and other interesting tidbits. The site also has a brief family history.
During the past week, a family member I had no knowledge of reached out to me to make a connection through that website. When I first received the email from my new “family member,” I was skeptical. I’ve used the internet long enough to be wary of contacts from strangers purporting to be relatives. After some investigation though, it turns out that my new visitor and I share a relative. Cousin D (at least I think she’s my cousin) lives in Florida and is the daughter of my grandmother’s brother. After some emailing and exchanging phone numbers and addresses, I have a new family connection made possible by the internet. This email contact prompted phone calls between several households in Ohio, Florida, and Georgia and a reunion of family.
This connection or reconnection prompted me to consider how Twitter, Facebook, and other social media tools are creating connections in real-time. Tweetups are occurring on a regular basis with individuals whose primary connection is through the internet. These meetings are for the most part social or business related.
How are activist groups using social media to engage membership?