“Death Of Distance” – Social Media and Collaboration

“Death Of Distance” – Social Media and Collaboration

Feb 26, 2012

It has become difficult to remember back to when you didn’t know everything about everyone in your life at any given moment.

You know those times where you would meet up with a friend for coffee or perhaps some distant relatives just to see what was going on?

Fast forward to today.

The whole world is on Facebook so we keep up with each others personal lives that way. We of course are LinkedIn to one another so we know what the professional skinny is, and beyond those platforms we are tweeting, pinning, Klouting, and stumbling all over one another.

When we do want to engage we have platforms for that. The Social Platforms above have created a nice mean for the quick interaction either via a posting or using an embedded messaging tool. If we want to take it one step further platforms like Skype, Google and Facebook will allow us to jump on a video chat.

In the enterprise you have businesses utilizing technologies such as Cisco Unified Communications and Microsoft Office Communicator to do full collaboration bringing the workforce closer together regardless of distance. Virtually one button from phone to video to email to text.

Life has become ubiquitous, collaboration has become truly immersive. What once could only be imagined is now done with greater ease than picking up the phone and making a call.

In reality it has reached a point where we don’t really need to ask one another how we are doing, we just need to hit the interwebs because all of the information can be found right there. To some extent social media and collaboration tools have facilitated the drive by “How You Doing?”

If you don’t know what this is, it is what I refer to when someone in the hall passed you by, makes eye contact, and asks you how you’re doing. While they did ask you the question, far more often than not they actually have no interest in hearing the answer.

So what does this all mean?

It is official…DISTANCE IS DEAD (So is most of your privacy by the way – an issue for a later time)

Recently I was lecturing to one of my International Marketing Classes (I’m also an Adjunct Professor) about how we communicate in the workplace. I asked the class what their preferred method of communication was.

Nearly the entire groups preferred method was text message followed closely by social media. They told me they respond to voice mail with email and email with text messages. Moreover they are seeking the platform that brings the most immediacy with the least interpersonal interaction.

To provide more clarity, this group is comprised of Senior undergrads whom are about to graduate this spring. Many of whom are already in the professional workforce or are just about to enter it.

While most of us have accepted the various social platforms both in our personal and professional lives, many of us still view it as a silo that is separate from our more intimate communications.

While we may not regularly break bread with the majority of our friends on Twitter, we certainly engage them in the moment via the content we share soon after.

It has almost reached the point in which we know more about virtual strangers than we could ever hoped for. (Or ever wanted to?)

This knowledge is powerful and it serves as a gateway to better interpersonal relationships, better business, and better communications. However this knowledge does have a price. If we aren’t careful it will allow us to become so busy being social that we no longer truly communicate. Interpersonal becomes replaced by “Internet Personal.” Moreover a scanning of peoples updates, profiles, blogs, and information that keeps us up to date without ever really speaking.

However with technology and innovation always comes risk and those that will be most successful will leverage the “Death of Distance.” It will be used to stay informed AND stay in touch. With friends, customers, colleagues, acquaintances, and of course family around the world.

The “Death of Distance” is an opportunity for all to better collaborate, communicate, and innovate our way through whatever opportunities and challenges that life brings next. To unlock its full potential it must be used this way rather than as a replacement for more intimate interaction.

In time it will only get better, faster, and higher definition; bringing us closer than ever before.

Wondering…Can I look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon…or will you just be following from afar?


Daniel, I didn't share this right away because I just had to read it and absorb it. Obviously, a message that resonates with me a great deal. I'm so not surprised that your students responded the way they did. My comm students respond the same way and it's very disconcerting to me.


What I hope we, as educators, will continue to promote is that social media is meant to be a bridge: We start the connections here, we cultivate them, but we deepen them by mixing up the "richness" of the interactions. Sometimes that means face-to-face connection. Sometimes that may mean a phone call (in fact, I'm about to talk to yet another tweep on the phone in just a few minutes--we're going to "meet" for the first time to chat about some business). Then, we'll return to the practicalities of our relationship via social media--but that, too, will take on a new dimension.  


There are actually a few tweeps who I speak to regularly on Twitter, we expand our conversations via e-mail, and every six weeks or so, we have a phone chat. I hope that at some point, we will meet in person. I truly hope that you and I and other educators can carry the torch to help students forge these types of interactions, as well.


Thank you, Daniel. Okay, I can go share this now :-).

Ellen @chattyprof


Prior to social media staying in touch with people required greater effort: picking up the phone or meeting-up in-person to grab a coffee and 'catch up' on things. Now technology allows us to passively engage with one another under mutually independent circumstances in smaller, less substantial fragments. Social media could be seen to some extent as a surrogate form of traditional face-to-face communication with lots of pros and cons.  


Nice article! I saw a tweet about this article and the title caught my attention. I agree with your observations in that social media has changed the way we relate and communicate with others. I think the idea of "face to face" communication is an idea that also has changed, I think, or needs to be redefined. Prior to social media and internet video capabilities, face to face probably meant being in the same room. That concept for some is probably not longer limited to that definition. Here are more of my thoughts on redefining face to face communication:





Great post and very timely as I set about writing a book with an American friend made on twitter! We are using skype and email. :)


I'm with @BruceSallan1 on this one. There is definitely more intimacy in personal interactions. I would never tell my wife to check Facebook when she asks about my day or limit the information I share with her to what I share publicly.


The issue of "always knowing" aside, technology definitely brings us closer together, closing distance for collaboration and relationships. The global workforce is now the global office in many cases, and our ability to communicate and collaborate effectively over distance, with no loss in time, is incredible when compared to just a decade ago, and increasingly these advances are available to everyone, not just to major companies.


When you head west to see Bruce, take a trip North to Portland. Lunch is, of course, on me.

danielnewmanUV moderator

 @JoeSabado Thanks for stopping by Joe - I look forward to catching up on your blogs!  Face to face is certainly changing quickly. 

danielnewmanUV moderator

 @Wittlake  @BruceSallan1 And on that note - I will be in Portland on April 5. You still up for buying?  

Thanks for stopping by - glad I stirred your mind. 

danielnewmanUV moderator

 @BruceSallan1 I tell you what - I'll be in San Diego in April - you can come down and meet me there. I'll even pay for an appetizer ;)


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