Ambient Awareness? Really? Do you buy from the “Ambiently Aware?”

Do you buy from the Ambiently Aware? Are you Ambiently challenged? Can we stuff more syllables into a smaller space?

In the September 5th New York Times, there was an article called Brave New World of Digital Intimacy exploring how relationships have changed now that we’re sharing our lives on-line via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others. It didn’t take long for intellectuals to create fancy compartment labels for online business relationships.

According to the article, social scientists have named this ongoing, open, online contact as “ambient awareness.” They say it’s like picking up on somebody’s mood by being physically close and observing the little things they do; body language, shrugs, random thoughts.

The idea is that online relationships offer us a similar “close” relationship. People share simple, random, and “close” thoughts on Twitter that they would never call someone to share (“The sun looks warm today”, “The guy on the park bench looks angry”, I spent too much on lunch just now.”, “I’m a little bored.”)

Probably all true, but I get a kick out of the need for big business mavens to constantly create new opportunities to play buzzword bingo. “Ambient awareness”? – gag me with a spoon. Why do we feel a need to sterilize things like this?

I’m guessing it has something to do with the need to compartmentalize life and make it nice and tidy. But relationships are always more complex than this.

Online updates can:

  1. create credibility – What you say seems to make sense or resonate with the way I view the world around me. You are someone I might want to let rub off on me.
  2. attract the trust of others by serving them – meeting the needs of others by sending them to the right resources. One woman wanted an online credit card processing contact. I had five to give her w/ recommendations on how each might work for her.
  3. repel others by trying to sell them – nobody wants to be sold anything, we all want to buy. if we try to sell ourselves or our wares, people digitally run away.
  4. create an initial connection – hmmm…maybe there is more here to help both our businesses…let’s have a conversation.
  5. clarify there is no connection – people who are raging net workers – trying to contact everyone – make me run the other way. (Stop networking and build a network. Stop trying to build a list of contacts and start making meaningful connections with a few people.)

Online “talk” will do the same thing for us (or not) as any other kind of communication, depending on how we approach it. If we talk online, it should have the same objective as getting a cup of tea with someone; building a few meaningful relationships that will help each other grow their businesses.

Let’s not encourage the social scientists by adopting big business buzzwords like “ambient awareness”. People buy from people, and they buy more from people they like.

I’ve never bought anything from someone who was a master of “ambient awareness”. Talk to somebody (online or off) and build a relationship. You’ll make more money in less time that way.