I don’t have a Facebook account.

I don’t use Twitter.

I read blogs but I don’t comment.

I’m not always sure what a chat shortcut (BCNU, IRL, FWIW) means.

I’m sure there is a lot more I don’t know about social networking than I do know.  I’m comfortable with that.  However, writing this blog has shown me the value of social networking.  This space gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts, experiences, and perspectives in ways that I could not have without it.

In the past couple of weeks people have told me they read my blog.  I cannot express the sense of appreciation that gives me.  I truly appreciate anybody who reads my blog.  Nobody has to.  Everyone is busy.  The thought that someone took time to read something I wrote is gratifying.  I am even more gratified when someone takes the time to comment.

This blog has caused me to reconsider some, but not all, of my thoughts on social networking.  First, a person has to be brave to expose themselves online.  To be interesting or valuable, a blog or other social networking tool has to be authentic.  When I started this blog, I wasn’t ready for that.  However, once I got started I realized it would be a waste of time if I wasn’t authentic.  It would also be boring.

Alexandra Samuel wrote a blog post titled “10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life” where she lays out the reasons she believes social networking can actually enrich relationships.  According to her, a person must recognize that a life online is real, as opposed to virtual.  Once a person accepts that, it changes everything.  A recurring theme in the post is the need to be real.  I encourage you to check it out.

I would not have agreed with her or even understood her point if I had not started this blog.  Now I see my online activity as being an extension of myself rather than something I do as an escape.  Being a contributor rather than a consumer has transformed my online experience.  I am more engaged.  I am actually spend less time online but  I am using my time more wisely (I think).

If you have not thought about blogging before I encourage you to do so.  Send me your URL.  Not only will I read it but I promise to comment too.