Lindsay Bell

I’m OK, You’re OK: Social Friendship and Gut Instincts

By: Lindsay Bell | June 5, 2013 | 
84

Social InstinctsThose who know me, know I don’t get out much.

No, really.

In fact, as I said to Danny Brown on Saturday, “I’m *this* close to becoming agoraphobic!”

While I might be exaggerating a bit, I do tend to watch Hoarders with a tad more trepidation than I used to.

So, when Gini Dietrich asked me if I wanted to attend the Social Capital Conference in Ottawa with her, I jumped at the chance. I know. You’re scratching your head saying “Um, those two statements make no sense.” Hang tight, I’m getting there.

I’ve said before I’m an introvert – painfully so in fact. But I fight hard to hide that fact. I’m pretty good at working a room, get geeked out about job interviews, and am absolutely beyond fascinated by people and what makes them tick.

As you can see, I’m a jumble of inconsistencies and mixed messaging (and the odd mixed metaphor). Poor Gini deals with this everyday. God love her. But I digress. Back to people.

The Study of People

People are so interesting. You really never know for sure if what you see on the outside is actually what’s on the inside. It gets a bit easier as one *koff* matures, but still. Trust is a bizarre thing us humans do. You couldn’t be more vulnerable than when you place your trust in someone.

When I meet people, I usually instantly like them – or I don’t. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been duped. Call it survival instincts, whatever, I’m seriously good at pegging people.

Yet, online, every day, we trust people with ourselves. We build deep relationships – friendships even – with people we’ve (usually) never met in real life. We share our most intimate thoughts, our life events, our children’s names.

Marjorie Clayman wrote a thought provoking piece on the subject of social friendship, suggesting we’re all becoming simply robot friends with on/off switches. Maybe. I certainly don’t feel that way at the moment. However, it’s interesting how quickly we bond with those we can’t look directly in the eye.

Digital Humans

Many people crow social/digital/mobile media is destroying our ability to communicate clearly and really know people. Studies do indicate 93 percent of communication between humans is based on nonverbal body language (which we’re obviously not getting via most technology).

For example, it drives me batty when I can’t see someone’s eyes when I’m speaking with them (I will ask you to take your sunglasses off!). But the same discomfort and feeling of disconnect rarely comes up for me when chatting online.

Clearly we’re evolving. And fast. Some researchers feel humans, and our physiology, evolved at a ferocious rate over a scant three or four millennia – a time frame “minutely short by the standards of Darwinian evolution,” as they say – and this because of technological advances.

Which brings us back to the conference. Yes I was nervous, and feeling out of sorts, but I put on my best “No, I’m actually an EXtrovert!” face on, stuck my hand out, and waded in. And I excitedly met some people I know online, in real life, for the first time. Guess what? My gut instincts didn’t fail me. Not once. The ones I was pretty sure I was going to like, I did. And those I kinda thought I might not – I didn’t.  

Boom! Instinct Wins Again!

Even with no eye contact, and hundreds of miles and machines between us, I have developed deep social friendships, and real connections to certain people in my social networks. And those same feelings were there when we met – and hugged – in Ottawa last week.

I think that says a lot about us and how we communicate and don’t communicate. Even without the magic (and pheromones!) of body language and face-to-face interaction – I still had a 100 percent return on my investments.

We should all stop worrying about this new digital world we’re living in and evolving beside. We’re all going to be just fine. And we’re going to have loads more friends to lean on than ever was possible before.

NOTE: I’m not sure what this all means, it’s just been jumbling around my head since the weekend and I had to get it on paper – I would LOVE your thoughts and feedback!

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

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84 Comments on "I’m OK, You’re OK: Social Friendship and Gut Instincts"

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aimeelwest
3 years 24 days ago

Love this! “I’m a jumble of inconsistencies and mixed messaging” it is like you are talking about me 🙂 I tend to be super shy but once I’m comfortable around you WATCH OUT! 
I love being able to talk to people online because it helps me connect to others who are also doing what I love and gives me a chance to get to know more people than I could ever meet in my limited geographic area.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

aimeelwest HA! There really are quite a few of us nut bars out here! Gini always say “I love that you can laugh at yourself, or you don’t care when I tease you about *insert any number of dorktastic/la di da things I have done*!!” – I can’t imagine not being able to embrace who you are – fully. I know what I know – and I sure as heck know what I don’t – and never try and hide it. 😀

Harry Brumleve
Harry Brumleve
3 years 24 days ago

Great article! I think online has the same feeling as the ‘what would a person do if they knew they wouldn’t get caught’ idea. I usually judge someone based upon their positive or negative posts and responses and how kindly they treat others within a realm of almost no reprecussions.
I’m glad your gut/instincts didn’t lead you astray, gives me hope for my own chioces online. 🙂

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

Harry Brumleve Thanks Harry, so glad you dropped by! Interesting tidbit re: the not getting caught game – I find it excruciating even crossing against a red light. Ask Gini – it’s true! I’m such a rule follower (or a chicken!). I doubt I would be able to do anything – even if I knew I wouldn’t get caught. 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 23 days ago

belllindsay Harry Brumleve I’m so sure MY friend comments on your blog posts, but never on mine.

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

ginidietrich belllindsay Harry Brumleve Harry likes me better.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 24 days ago
Love this! The “social” provides this amazing chance to get to know what someone wants you to think about them. Which can be very revealing. As much as people have the potential to mislead us in this space, I’ve actually had a surprisingly good return on investment as well. I’ve met people from all of my different “social” spaces, which if you know me, is quite varied, and they’ve all turned out quite well. I am surprisingly an introvert as well, and meeting first online works well for me- in person I am really really silly when I am nervous.… Read more »
belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

RebeccaTodd HAHAHA! You? Silly? I have to say you’re pretty brave – it’s one thing to meet people at an event or conference – it’s another altogether to actively arrange a dinner date (as you did in San Fran) – I’m not sure I could be that brave!! I really do think as human tribe mates we’re changing – but I’m not sure that’s  abad thing.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay Really, my job- when I am out doing face to face appointments- is a lot like dating. Each appointment is a little first date. Which is why it both makes it really easy for me to go out with someone I don’t know socially, and makes me totally uninterested in dating for fun. I can keep conversation flowing like it’s my job, because it is! But when I get home from a big road trip, I isolate in my house with my dogs and my books and my vinyl. People overload!

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

RebeccaTodd Yeah, I like people, love to people watch, geek on the science of our species – but man, I don’t want to be around them 24/7 – not even my own family! LOL

AmyMccTobin
3 years 24 days ago
Awesome.  I think Hangouts have changed things for me considerably – seeing people’s  mannerisms adds an extra layer of intimacy. When I finally met samfiorella IRL last month in San Francisco, he just refused to believe it wast he first time we’d met. We have been friends online for years.  I don’t even know WHEN I met him, but it sure wasn’t like meeting a new person for lunch. What I try to do, though, is pick up the phone and TALK to the people I feel close to on Social, even if I can’t see them IRL. Gini and I have… Read more »
aimeelwest
3 years 24 days ago

“the real person comes out. You can’t hide it. Even in type.” So true AmyMccTobin So true samfiorella

RebeccaTodd
3 years 24 days ago

AmyMccTobin samfiorella Really well said Amy.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

RebeccaTodd AmyMccTobin samfiorella Exactly true. It’s quite incredible actually. Unless they’re straight up sociopaths, that is.

AmyMccTobin
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay RebeccaTodd AmyMccTobin samfiorella Well, I already KNEW Sam was a sociopath so I was fully prepared.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

AmyMccTobin RebeccaTodd samfiorella I would agree with you, but I’m hoping to hit the porch of cognac and cigars one day. 😉

bobledrew
bobledrew
3 years 24 days ago
Speaking as one of the people I HOPE you were thinking about on the good side, but didn’t identify…  One of the things that I find really fascinating about living / working in this field is the juxtaposition of “real” friends and “virtual” friends, and how we each react differently. I know that as the time came nearer that I was going to meet you and ginidietrich for the first time, I was getting progressively antsier, I suspect from a minority position of “I hope they’re as cool as I think they are” and a majority position of “Crap, I hope they… Read more »
belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

bobledrew ginidietrich You were one of the bad people.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago
bobledrew ginidietrich KIDDING!!! Seriously though, I totally agree – there’s always a bit of nerves meeting IRL, no matter how much you think you ‘know’ someone in the online space. And I think that’s where our evolution is happening – we are developing certain ‘digital instincts’ (if you will) about people to make up for the lack of real contact/body language/pheromones etc., BUT we are still hundreds, maybe thousands of years away from those evolutionary butterflies ever subsiding (will this person stab me through the heart or give me a hug?). I’m not sure what it all means, but I can geek… Read more »
bobledrew
bobledrew
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay bobledrew ginidietrich But.. but..

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

bobledrew ginidietrich  *swoon*

bobledrew
bobledrew
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay bobledrew ginidietrich TINY HANKDOG! ACTIVATE MISTRESS CATCH (with apologies to davidsvet

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

bobledrew ginidietrich davidsvet LMAO! TINY HANKDOG! FRONT AND REAR PROJECTILE ELIMINATION EXERCISES: COMMENCE ROUND FOUR!!  #TinySickDog

ginidietrich
3 years 23 days ago

bobledrew I feel like we’ve known each other for years and “meeting” in person for the first time felt like I was just seeing an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few months. That said, I adore you even more having seen you in the flesh.

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

ginidietrich bobledrew I was shocked to find out you two hadn’t met before!

biggreenpen
3 years 24 days ago

Oh gosh I have to come back to this when I have more time but I agree!! The two main “IRL” meetings I have had with people I thought I “understood/got/would get along with” on social media have been splashing successes. Completely. And the few people who gave me the willies on SM were, in retrospect, people who had issues that no relationship on social media was going to repair. More later …….

biggreenpen
3 years 24 days ago
Well, I guess I don’t really have as much to say as I thought — I summarized a lot of it in my original rushed reply. BUT I have shared that feeling of the pre-meeting of someone I only know from social media and not IRL. In September 2012, I went to Boston to run in a half marathon. But it wasn’t JUST a half marathon, it was one I ended up at because a couple I follow on line have a child with autism and …….it’s a LONG story but I was persuaded by these two amazing people to… Read more »
belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

biggreenpen Thanks, and what a great story – I couldn’t run to the mailbox and back, let alone do a half-marathon. And yes, we’ve all had those “what if they hate me IRL!” moments – proves we’re all just human under all the sarcasm and bravado that the interwebs afford us! 🙂

LauraPetrolino
3 years 24 days ago
ahhh…..man, I love every little bit of this article. So interesting on several levels for me. As an extrovert I also adore the online world because it gives me an even bigger sphere to meet and learn about people. Honestly before online communication became to norm I was so desperate for more interaction that I would literally go to grocery stores or book stores simply to make more friends. I think I drove people crazy but I was just sooooo in need of more people to connect with I had no choice. Many people still call me the ‘mayor’ because I… Read more »
RebeccaTodd
3 years 24 days ago

LauraPetrolino This line should win the Pulitzer or something- “You just can’t hide your inner f$%*tard for too long. ” Yeah I find I get duper more in “real life” than in social. The social gives me a pretty good glimpse in to people, in real life, I’m not so good at that.

LauraPetrolino
3 years 24 days ago

RebeccaTodd Hehe…yeah, I have to admit I was pretty proud of that after I wrote it! It might be the title of one of the many books I’d like to write 🙂
But agreed. I love people watching, I could do it all day. I watch and try to figure people out and extrapolate about their lives and feelings and personalities. Social gives you a supersized people watching experience. Like people watching on steroids, and that is very powerful.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

RebeccaTodd LauraPetrolino HAHAHAHAHA! I was thinking the exact same thing!

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

LauraPetrolino Thanks Laura – although I will admit, reading about how sociable and extroverted you are in real life almost gave me hives. 😉 I still find it fascinating how much we can determine about people – correctly usually –  using digital communication alone. I mean, we are programmed to decipher people face to face – twitches, scents, eye movements, body language. If I were smarter I’d write a book about this subject.

LauraPetrolino
3 years 24 days ago
belllindsay first let me say that I probably say at least once a week “if I were smarter, I’d write a book about this subject’, haha! So instead I’m just filled with a collection of halfway useful theories and facts through my academic googling 🙂 But I think what you said above about us evolving to the world we live in is sooooo interesting and makes sense. Had our ancestors encountered the world we are in today, communication and society would shut down completely. Also, look at the way animals have adapted their natural instincts to evolve for the new environment… Read more »
belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

LauraPetrolino HA! You are hilarious. I’m not convinced that *all* evolution is a good thing, but I like what you’re saying here – at least it happens – for the good and continuation of the species.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay LauraPetrolino I love the Petro Brain.

LauraPetrolino
3 years 24 days ago

RebeccaTodd belllindsay Hahaha! Awww shucks you guys. See that’s why I love you all, you appreciated my crazycake perspective on the world (or at least you just play along nicely…..either way works for me)

Kato42
3 years 24 days ago

I love this article (introverts unite!). I think if you’ve got a well-tuned bull***t detector, it will serve you well no matter what the form of communication.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

Kato42 Very true – a good BS detector is an important tool to have! 🙂

jasonkonopinski
3 years 24 days ago

Imma hug you one of these days.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

jasonkonopinski **runs away**

jasonkonopinski
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay Right in the feels, man. Right in the feels.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

jasonkonopinski belllindsay :LOL

hessiej
3 years 24 days ago

Aww Lindsay!! You’re OK!!

Danny Brown
3 years 24 days ago

You know hessiej paid us all to hug you, right? 😉
It was great to see you again, miss – we need to do it more often. Heck, it’s not as if we’re miles away from each other..!

hessiej
3 years 24 days ago

Danny Brown we need to force belllindsay by invading her at her doorway:) Miss you Lindsay!

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

hessiej Danny Brown Miss you too Hessie! Wish you guys didn’t live in the hinterlands! LOL

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

Danny Brown hessiej I saw the love in your eyes Danny.

Danny Brown
3 years 24 days ago

belllindsay hessiej That was whisky glaze…

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

Danny Brown hessiej I’LL TAKE IT!

yvettepistorio
3 years 24 days ago

You have to like me…you really don’t have much of a choice 😉 Hahaha!!!
Kidding, kidding…great post LB, love love love. And I love what AmyMccTobin said…the real person comes out even in type. So true.

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

yvettepistorio AmyMccTobin I don’t have to like you. I have to tolerate you. (jokes!)

Communic8nHowe
Communic8nHowe
3 years 24 days ago
Lindsay, I’m sorry we didn’t connect at Social Capital. Then again two introverts who don’t know each other yet can make roe an awkward conversation. I hate being in situations where I’m expected to engage in conversation or even worse small talk with people that I don’t know. I gravitate to people that I already know and stick with them or circle the room looking busy. (Did I just say that in front of 18 people listening?) But I love social media because I can make connections with people easier–and then when I go to an event like Social Capital… Read more »
belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

Communic8nHowe “I gravitate to people that I already know and stick with them or circle the room looking busy.” HAHAHA! You just described me to a TEE! I’m sure the day will come when we will meet. Sometimes it’s all about timing! 😀

suzemuse
3 years 24 days ago

I think that “introverted extrovert” is something a lot of people in our circles have in common. I know I’m certainly one of them and I can peg several others too. I think that’s part of what makes us all click so well – the fact that we GET each other on a pretty deep level, because we share a lot of the same personality traits.
I loved the conference, and I loved seeing you, and Gini, and everyone else. But boy did I like not having to talk to anyone on Sunday. 🙂

belllindsay
3 years 24 days ago

suzemuse And I LOVED your hair!! In fact, I didn’t recognize you for a minute when we arrived at dinner that night (idiot). 😀

Lara Wellman
Lara Wellman
3 years 23 days ago

suzemuse I slept the ENTIRE day on Sunday. SO done.  🙂 I definitely fall in the extroverted introvert box.  I’m also quite shy in many situations, which others have a hard time believing 🙂

rodmarqc02
rodmarqc02
3 years 23 days ago

Very interesting article. I’m now learning from social instincts in the world of social media.

jasondyk
jasondyk
3 years 23 days ago

Amazing how well our instincts can be sharpened isn’t it? It was great seeing you this weekend and FINALLY having a chance to chat in person!

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

jasondyk Me too Jason! Actually, I think it was that conversation with you that sparked this whole thought process. 😉

jasondyk
jasondyk
3 years 23 days ago

belllindsay hopefully it was around the positive gut instincts feeling!! 🙂

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

jasondyk LOL!!

ginidietrich
3 years 23 days ago

I think you’re more an ambivert than introvert. You’re very, very good at making your way through a crowd, meeting new people, and having conversations. You don’t give yourself enough credit. Sure, you need your bedtime early and you need to read (i.e. be alone) to wind down from the day, but I’ve never seen you act like an introvert in a social situation.

ginidietrich
3 years 23 days ago

P.S. Minus the traveling thing. We have to get you past that.

gurr13singh
gurr13singh
3 years 23 days ago

ginidietrich  hi how are you

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

ginidietrich I hide it SO WELL even you don’t notice. I was a wreck at the Tweet-Up on Friday night. 😉

gurr13singh
gurr13singh
3 years 23 days ago

belllindsay hi

sherrilynne
sherrilynne
3 years 23 days ago

I really do hope I ended up on the right list Lindsay. It was great meeting you. 🙂

gurr13singh
gurr13singh
3 years 23 days ago

sherrilynne hi

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

sherrilynne Oh yes, but the difference is I had no preconceived expectations with you – since I was meeting you for the first time ever! Same with Mary Pretotto – just an instant like, in some ways easier than having built a ‘relationship’ online first. Hey, that’s a thought. I wonder if the ‘online knowing’ skews the IRL meeting (I mean, beyond what I discussed above), compared to when you meet a total 100% stranger. Sigh. Why does my brain make me think things like this. 😉

gurr13singh
gurr13singh
3 years 23 days ago

hi

lizreusswig
3 years 23 days ago

I love how you are able to write about the things that make you uncomfortable!  I think that’s why so many of us respond to you & adore you!  Introvert, schmintrovert! 🙂

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

LOL That’s funny, I hadn’t thought of it that way. 🙂 I guess I’m also not that high on myself and pretty OK with people knowing the real me, flaws and all (as ginidietrich  well knows!)

Mark_Harai
3 years 23 days ago

Hi, Lindsay – fascinating story : )
We are creatures that live and breathe words. Words and conversations shape everything about who we are, who we become… If you really want to know who a person is, just listen carefully to every word they speak; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
When you connect with people in this fashion, it’s literally a heart to heart connection. These are among the most real, impactful, and life-changing relationships you will have in your lifetime. 
Cheers, miss! : )

belllindsay
3 years 23 days ago

Mark_Harai You make a very good point Mark – and what is interesting is people often share MORE – faster – online, than they would if you met IRL as strangers. So, one can usually get a pretty good feel for someone in the digital space fairly quickly.

trackback

[…] Friendship and Gut instincts I was thrilled to meet up with a bunch of friends at the Social Capital Conference in Ottawa last weekend. My good buddy Lindsay Bell-Wheeler makes some great thought provoking points about her experience at the conference in this article; meeting people in person for the first time, being an extroverted introvert (cheers to that!) and going with your gut instincts on people. […]

AmyVernon
3 years 22 days ago

I’m more similar to you than not. And it’s so very true.

belllindsay
3 years 22 days ago

AmyVernon We should start the weird minds club. LOL Also, probably why you make me laugh *out loud* at everything you say on Facebook. 😉

susansilver
3 years 21 days ago
I have been pondering this Lindsay. I work as a community manager and I feel very close to the community that I have been part of and building since December. We have a history, just like relationships in real life. We can tell stories of what it was like, not just nostalgically around the magazine, but also as members of a special group of people that gather online. It is exciting to watch friendships bloom over status updates.  I think the personality types most attracted to these types of jobs are a lot like you. They have an idea of… Read more »
belllindsay
3 years 21 days ago

susansilver Love your comment Susan, and 100% agree – those of us who love to communicate every day seem to make wonderful little nests here online! And while empathy and intuition play a hard role in what we do, as you said, having a ‘history’ with someone is vitally important – even if you haven’t met IRL – we are hardwired to be tribal, and in today’s crazy world we’ve all seem to have lost our tribes. 🙂

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[…] I’m OK, You’re OK: Social Friendship and Gut Instincts via Spin Sucks  [Link] […]

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[…] I’m OK, You’re OK: Social Friendship and Gut Instincts […]

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[…] claim: You will have access to a premier alumni career network, creating professional and social connections to reinforce your knowledge base, and help you find your first job, your next job, and your best […]

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[…] Being an introvert has affected my life in myriad ways. It left me dateless for most of my teens and twenties (I know you’re finding this impossible to believe, but it’s true!). […]

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