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#IRL or #F2F: Relationships Matter
December 14, 2011 - 6:18pm




While giving the closing keynote for the NASPA Western Regional Conference last month, I mentioned that one of the frequently used reasons for why some people do not use Twitter is because so many people use the platform to talk about the weather. This particular NASPA event was in San Diego. In November, in sunny San Diego, the weather was joyfully discussed by several conference attendees. We talk about the weather during our face-to-face conversations with one another all of the time. The weather is usually among the top five subjects that I talk about with my father. The weather is a frequent topic of conversation. So why is the weather used as a way to maintain distance from Twitter? Perhaps the reason isn't really the weather (or cats or any other day-to-day minutiae that gets tweeted). Maybe it's about how we view online versus offline.

Speaking of online, Twitter is one of the most versatile social platform’s on the web. In fact, Twitter is just like “real life” in that it contains a mix of conversations, news, advice, resources, questions, answers, and more. Real life happens on Twitter on a tweet-by-tweet basis.

How does this relate to Student Affairs? In Student Affairs, face-to-face (#F2F) has  generally been placed at the core of our work. We work with Hence, in-real-life (#IRL) has always meant that we were meeting with students in person. We work toward developing relationships that matter. However, with social sites like Facebook and Twitter, real life conversations and connections are taking place on a daily basis. Professional and personal networks built electronically can have just as much meaning as those that happen via in-person meetings. Personally and professionally, I use social sites to maintain, sustain and cultivate relationships that are meaningful in my life. It’s not about saying that offline is “real” and online isn’t. This is about redefining the paradigms that have been woven into our profession...We are no longer all about face-to-face. Student Affairs professionals are now creating real relationships that exist in both online and offline spaces. Students who experience our institutions via online-only programs deserve our best efforts just as much as a student who walks into our offices.

How is Student Affairs redefining its historical paradigms in spaces that may be deemed unfamiliar, unpublished, unstudied or uncharted? How are we preparing for a new definition of #IRL?

#IRL = In-Real-Life
#F2F = Face-to-Face

Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.

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