I read a great article in Texas Monthly about many of the still-kicking dance halls in Texas. These beautiful tin-roof-and-wood-floor arenas can be found in places like Anhalt, Quihi or Helotes, towns nobody but residents ever heard of. Every Friday night locals gather to tell stories, knock back a couple of cold ones and, oh yes, dance like there's no tomorrow. Not only has this tradition survived in Texas, it's flourishing. Why? And what in the Sam Hill has this got to do with social media?
It's simple. People are socializing again, with a vengeance. Nobody gives a hoot about TV anymore, unless there's a good football or baseball game on, and we'd rather go see the local high school play than watch the pros. It's about the experience and the camaraderie, not the game. OK, you got me. In Texas it IS about the game too, but it's better live than over the wire. So how does that translate to Facebook? Well, last time I checked there are 6 other days in the week (other than Friday), and we can't always break away for lunch or pack up the tailgating supplies for the big game. But we still hunger for get-togethers, even if they're of the electronic kind. So we hook up on our favorite social networks, mobile devices and real-time streams. It's not as good as dancing, but it beats sitting there reading and typing all the time.
So what is social media? Is it a place to get together and chat, or is it a collection of relationships? Is it about building trust and influence, or is it a great hangout for casual conversation? I think it's both. It depends on how you care to use it, just like a Texas dance hall. You can go and twirl your favorite sweetie around the floor all night or you can pull up a soap box and run for Governor. Either way, it's genuine Americana and it's fast becoming a part of our fabric.
Where do you think social media is going and how do you prefer to use it?