Janette Toral

Digital Filipino

I CELEBRATED my birthday last Sunday virtually online with greetings coming in a few days earlier and as of this writing.

Most of them were sent through Facebook and Twitter. Some were sent through text messages.

On my end, I decided to take the opportunity of giving more than the usual thanks. Rather than a simple reply, I visited the profiles of each person and gave a thumbs-up or left a comment to a post they made that interested me. If their blogs or microblogs are listed or linked from their profiles, I visited and interacted and followed, too.

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It was an experience. It allowed me to reach out and go beyond my usual inner circle that I get to interact with.

It also prompted me to update my online presence. For example, if one of the greeters has an active Multiply profile, I also updated mine after leaving a comment on that person’s profile or blog.

I began to appreciate further those who did not only take time to greet but noticed as well those who returned to interact further with the information I actively shared in my profile.

Yesterday noon, I shared my experience with a friend and he described my activity as a digital handshake. True, indeed.

It is like saying “Hi. How are you? Thanks for stopping by earlier. How are you doing?” But rather than waiting for an answer, you are already starting to look around and reading up to get a glimpse of what the person is up to.

The experience was enriching. It felt like expanding from your usual sphere of contacts. Some of those with whom I took time to interact with appreciated the effort and even sent e-mails saying they did not expect me to do such a thing.

It is like having a blog that people read but hardly anyone posts a comment. I know how that feels. Being the first person to comment, hopefully, will make that blogger feel that what they share is also appreciated by others.

I had a meeting last week when an expert placed a lot of importance on social networks and said he believed that blog comments are a thing of the past. I wanted to disagree outright but also realized that there is partial truth to it as some folks like to read but would rather post their comment in the link that you share on Facebook or Twitter.

However, I don’t want to conclude this early. I would like to test this further by becoming more interactive on blogs once more and see how the blogger, especially the newbie or non-mainstream ones, respond to it. I’ll share more about the experience in the weeks to come.

By the way, if you want to add in Facebook a person who doesn’t personally know you that well, take time to send a personal message. I say this because my friend request cue is congested with people requesting to add me as a friend but I’m unsure if I really know them. However, I appreciate those who took time to explain where we met or indicated that they read this column and would like to interact further.

In the age of social networking, putting a personal touch is important.