The Most Important People

The Most Important People

Not long ago, a wise friend sat across the table from me.

“The most important people in your life,” she said, “are not on Tweetdeck.”

I took out my pen and wrote down her words.

I didn’t need to. Her words seared into my memory. I will not forget them.

It is easy for me to be enticed by my world of online relationships. I might sit down at my desk for a few minutes to send a few tweets and completely tune out the sound of my daughter who is standing nearby, pleading for a glass of water.

Or I might spend the evening sitting in the same room with my husband, never shifting my attention away from my computer screen to really talk to and engage with him.

It’s time to get ready for church; I’m dressed but my kids are still hunting for tights and ponytail holders. I sneak away to check my email one more time.

Do you do this, too?

I thrive on the interaction, validation, and attention I get from my online friends.

You’re always happy to see me. You notice when I’m not around. You offer unexpected words of encouragement, praise, and love.

I get love in real life, too, from my husband, who is happy to see me at the end of the day; from my daughters, who start each morning with snuggles. I get sticky hugs, love notes written in crayon, funny and affectionate texts from my husband.

The difference is that most online interaction is Facebook likes and warm fuzzies while real life is highs and lows, sweet and bittersweet.

There’s not much drama in my Twitter world. The folks I interact with share kind words and high praise. There’s little need for confrontation, rarely any conflict or disagreements.

Everyone plays nice, or they don’t play at all.

My real world is nuanced.

In our home, we raise our voices sometimes; we argue; we clash. We disappoint each other. My kids whine a lot; they bicker. They complain.

When my friend told me that the most important people in my life are not on Tweetdeck, she was gently reminding me of at least two important truths:

The most important people in my life are the ones who share my address. I’ve made a commitment to my family that supersedes any others. Our ties are lifelong, nonnegotiable.

I need to give the most important people my life the time and attention they deserve. Cultivating online relationships is fun and rewarding but there are real people right in front of me. They are my first priority. I need to be sure that my actions are in line with my priorities. I need to shift my attention away from my online world to the people who share my home.

It’s not easy.

I get it wrong more often than I get it right.

I frustrate my kids. I exasperate my husband.

Yet they reward me with sloppy kisses and smiles.

There is a sink full of dishes here. There is a pile of laundry as tall as my shoulder.

There are these people, the most important ones in my life.

They’re here. They are not on Tweetdeck.

Tell me something! How do you maintain balance between your online and real life relationships? What struggles have you had with this? What has worked well for you? Who are the most important people in your life?




Filed As:  tweetdeck, family

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Great post Becky. How do I balance? I turn off Tweetdeck, silence the phone and focus on what’s most important. The lure of online interaction is strong for many of us, so the best way to overcome it is to turn it off.

    Kevin 🙂

  • Great post Becky. Is it the “fleeting” nature of online relationships that makes us feel we have to stay on top of them? The flip side is to fall into a lull that the relationships at home will always be there – no matter what.

  • Great discussion Becky. Ironically, I was just contemplating a future post on tuning out the noise (including social media) and tuning into our heart place, when I saw your post pop up. Social media can be such an enriching dimension of our lives, but there is no substitute for both quiet reflection and fully engaging in the present moment of our lives with those we love most.

  • Dear Becky,

    Kevin Eikenberry is right. The most important people in our life are the ones you need to connect with the most. Face to face. One on one.

    I spent the day with Karalee, my spouse of 28 years. We ran together with friends, had coffee with them afterwards, and went out and did things together on a beautiful Vancouver Spring day. No tweeting. No Facebook. No email.

    We were back at dinner time, when I did check Twitter. I read the Tweets my son Kevin had written. Other than talking on the phone with him briefly, it was the only chance that I had to connect with him today.

    I haven’t seen much of my daughter Jocelyn lately. I did get to have dinner with her tonight. And Karalee and I read Facebook on Karalee’s iPhone together today, where we read and shared this status update that Jocelyn had posted on Friday:

    “There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s swept away.”

    Life is multi-layered. There are never simple answers. It is not all offline or online. There is a blend. Connections are made in a wide variety of different ways. Even with the most important people in our lives. I cherish all those connections.



  • Becky,

    Your comments ring so true. The kindness and positive feedback we get online can be seriously addictive. Yet real life relationships must take priority, because those are the people with whom we will always have the most impact. They are also the ones that take the most work and conscious intention.

    I’ve made a determination to do most of my tweeting and facebooking during the early morning hours and in the early evening. Sometimes I “dip in the stream” when I have opportunity. But I have to remind myself everyday of the addictive nature of social media and keep myself from over-indulging.

    I really agree with David Greer when he said, “There are never simple answers. It is not all offline or online. There is a blend.” As with everything moderation needs to rule if we are to live a deep and rich life.

  • Becky, good post. I do agree that the most important people are our family because family will not change no matter how.

  • True statement, even as you show the value of relationships formed via Twitter and Facebook. After all, that’s how we connected.
    But I do control my time online. I do not tweet on the weekends. Not at all. And I’m rarely on Facebook on the weekends.
    I turn the sound on when I’m on TweetDeck because, quite honestly, all those “beeps” annoy me and my family. So, out of courtesy, I mute it.
    On Sundays, I stay off the computer completely until after 5 (at least) unless I have a pressing deadline.

  • Yes, our real worlds are more nuanced and messy which is why it is “easier” to get lost online. Thank you for naming that so we can see why we are so easily lured…

  • Brilliant Post. It makes you stop and think doesn’t it?

    Love you Becky.
    Hope to meet you face to face …real soon.

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