Picture yourself in the center of a large auditorium, wearing a blindfold. The blindfold is a wispy, translucent fabric… so you can see the people around you: their form, their coming and going; you can identify a few familiar faces.

What you can’t see is their expression, their engagement with you, their reaction to your messages.

But still, you keep talking. You share what’s on your mind in short bursts. You leave the room and return and collect messages people have left behind, straining to decipher their intonation and intention.

Mostly, you believe the best about the people around you: they are friendly, engaging, positive; they are interested in what you have to say, just as you are interested in them.

But, you have doubts. You’re not really sure who hears what you’re saying. Is anyone really listening, reading, watching? Does the message get through? Are you talking to an empty room? Have the people walked away, fallen asleep, lost interest? Have you offended someone? Inspired them? Are they laughing at you or cheering for you?

When we get involved with connecting and communicating with others via social media, it is difficult to gauge people’s reactions to our communication. Here’s why:

Most forms of social media communication are indirect. We address our communication to everyone… and no one. We could be speaking to a crowd of thousands or an audience of one.

Of course, social media is not without feedback. People may comment on your status updates on Facebook or comment on your blog. They may “like” your pictures or retweet something you’ve said. You can check your blog stats and count your page views.

But many, many people could be reading your messages and not responding at all. They’re paying attention, but you have no way of knowing. Or, you might assume people are paying attention and really they’re not engaged at all.

Have you ever met up with someone in real life that you haven’t seen in awhile, and been surprised to find out they’re up-to-date with your life even though you haven’t communicated directly? They’re reading your blog or your Facebook updates so they already know about your sprained ankle, your recent trip overseas. Or, you feel frustrated because you assume someone should know about your recent tragedy, but they haven’t seen your tweets at all.

So what do you do?

Choose direct forms of communication when you want to be sure your message gets through.

Send an email, make a phone call, video  chat on Skype, meet someone in person.

Tear off your blindfold and directly connect with others.

Join the conversation!

What do you do to connect directly with others?

How do you overcome the disadvantages of social media communication?