Tom Chatfield's avatar image.

I'm a tech philosopher

My name is Tom Chatfield, and I write books, speak, teach (and try to keep learning) about what it means to use technology well

Anonymous profile image
  • How important do you think it is to stay in touch in person rather than through just social media?

    Do you think there's still a lot of value in meeting up with people for coffee?

    Tom Chatfield's avatar image.

    Yes. While it has never been easier to reach people onscreen, meeting in person has a scarcity value and impact that can matter immensely.

    I always feel that it's wrong to think of mediated and personal contacts as opposites, or in conflict. Social media makes it easy for me to find great people to meet for coffee when I'm in a new place; it can help sustain relationships with friends and family alike; and it most often tends both to facilitate meeting in person, and to rely on personal interactions for content.

    In other words, I think that social media has increasingly shown itself to be above all a facilitation of the personal rather than a substitution; an intensification of relationships that can have its dark side, making it harder than ever to switch off from watching others' activities unfold, and harder still not to judge yourself by the standards of a constant highlights reel of others' lives.

    Then again, I have some friendships that only really exist through and on social media, and there is an enriching place for them in my life - although in most cases I hope that, some day, I'll be able to meet the people on the other end over a drink or two...