On Saturday morning, while I was sipping coffee, reading my iPad, and hanging out with my kids after a long and crazy week (back-to-school, 12 hours without electricity throughout San Diego, preparing trial exhibits for a construction defect case in Nevada…), I learned some horrific news – my friend Imad Naffa had passed away. I was overcome with emotion and sat down at my computer and wrote a post at AECforensics.com entitled, Eulogy For a Friend: Remembering Imad Naffa. As I was writing that post, his memorial service was taking place.
I never met Imad “in real life” (or IRL in geek-speak). I never even talked to him over the phone. I only know what his voice sounds like from watching videos that he made or from his TED talks. I also never did business with Imad’s firm, NAFFA International, Inc.
But, I considered Imad a friend. On more than one occasion, Imad referred to me as a friend in replies to me on Twitter. And news of his death impacted me just as much as if a “real life” friend had died.
Breaking The Rules
As social media has gained more presence in our society, there has been a lot of debate about its relevance. There are people at both extremes: those that deride social media as a worthless, perhaps narcissistic waste of time, and those that see it as the solution to all the world’s ills.
Along with the debate over the relevance of social media, comes the endless debates over the application of social media. Etiquette, tone, automation – these are all hotly debated topics. On a recent episode of TWiT.tv’s The Social Hour, hosts Amber MacArthur and Sarah Lane discussed these very issues with Scott Stratten, the outspoken author of UnMarketing, a best practices guide for businesses leveraging social media. Stratten is vehemently (perhaps violently) opposed to any sort of automated posting on social media.
Stratten would have hated Imad’s Twitter feed. Using a variety of tools, including Pluggio, Twitterfeed, etc., Imad published over 100 updates per day. Sure, I skipped over many of those posts, but I can honestly say that there was always at least one link he shared per day that I followed, pondered, and learned something from. And it wasn’t like Imad’s Twitter feed was completely automated, either. Every time I ever replied or retweeted him, he responded to me – usually within minutes.
Imad Naffa had over 55,000 followers on Twitter. Many, if not most, were bots and automated accounts that were irrelevant. But the real humans that followed Imad found him engaging, as did I.
What’s The Point?
Many of us that are working professionals unfortunately do not have much time outside of work and family responsibilities to maintain active social lives. Social media provides an opportunity to connect, even if just briefly, with other humans. Had it not been for Twitter, I probably would have never known Imad.
Fortunately, I did get to know Imad Naffa. And through his life and his death, I learned something about the value of social media.