Communication Redefined

Clark Harris attempted to do what most would think is absurd, if not impossible. He communicated for one month using only social media networks to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The project evolved from a 2006 direct mail campaign that he worked on to help raise money for the same cause. His goal was to get 20,000 people to donate $5 to LLS in honor of his mother who, lost her battle with cancer in 2009.

Soon after, he became @silentClark and only communicated through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flicker, Linked-In and Google Chat. Email, text messaging, writing, sign language and of course, talking was prohibited to anyone, including his own family.

In an interview for mashable, he said one of the biggest obstacles he has faced was the delay factor that comes with any technological device. He said there were certain times that instant gratification was needed and it became very frustrating when there was a lapse in communication.

So how did this experiment change the way he communicated? Harris said he became hopelessly dependent on his technology and it made being social in public more work (he passed out business cards explaining his experiment to those that tried to talk to him). He also stopped communicating as much, “It’s too much effort to tweet a response to everything. My percentage of talking to listening ha[d] completely reversed.”

We can all agree that social media can only get you so far. For more in-depth conversations, we eventually send an email or call. Since Clark could not do that, he found that he began to rely heavily in Google Chat and Facebook because he “crave[d] conversation.” He then added that while Chat has helped him through this process, he hadn’t had a “solid 30-60 minute ‘chat’ with anyone, including my wife since April.”

This brings me to an important point about communication in social media; the SM movement has certainly bridged the gap between individuals and has given us access to people that we wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. But the depth and quality of these conversations cannot compare to more “traditional” forms of communication; therefore we should view SM (for now) as a gateway and not as a new outlet for communicating.

Source: “Can One Man Communicate Solely Through Social Media for One Month” Barb Dybwad

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