Tell a friend in person

As the Internet took off, so did a concept now called “viral.” Viral plays off the metaphor of an infection or a disease spreading quickly as one person sneezes or otherwise interacts with others. Pretty soon, that one person has infected many others, sometimes hundreds or thousands of others.

Instead of talking sickness, though, now we’re talking ideas.

This has always been possible, of course, but the Internet allows it to happen much faster and much broader than ever before. With the mass spread of germs or cat photos or whatever else online, though, I think a lot of us tend to forget the most powerful way to spread an idea.

Sure, you can publish something on your website. Sure, you can post something on Facebook. Sure, you can email your closest circle of friends. Each of these can influence others.

But nothing influences like telling a friend in person.

  • Tell: There’s something about spoken words that are way more influencial than written words. I think written content is great for education, for discovering information, and processing it quickly. When it comes to anything emotional, though, like getting someone to act or getting someone to care, spoken words win.
  • A friend: All those people on Facebook, all those people who watch your YouTube video, they only kind of sort of care. They care because there’s something in it for them. Your friends, though, care on a different level. They care about you, not just what you represent. Also, notice this is just a – as in one – friend, which is much more personal than broadcast mode.
  • In person: And since we’re talking personal, this is as real as you can get. In person is the most vulnerable channel of communication. You can’t hide. You can’t let your eyes wander. You can’t pretend. Or at least this is where it’s hardest to do any of those. As a result, we tend to trust people most when they look us in the eye just a few feet away. Your friends trust you the most when you do the same.

So here’s a challenge: tell a friend in person. I’m not so concerned about what you tell as that you tell.

Make a recommendation. Put your tastes and preferences on the line. Mention a restaurant, a movie, a book. Invite them to an event or a party or a church. Compliment them, something you admire about their personality. Apologize to them, something you did even a long time ago that they might have forgotten or that might have kept the two of you apart.

But tell a friend in person… something, something important. (And let me know how it goes.)

[Not by coincidence, I’m currently trying to adopt a child, or at least raise money so I can do that. I’m telling my friends. I’d appreciate it if you told just one of your friends about this for me. Pull up this site on their computer. Show it to them on your phone. Tell the story. Join the chapter.]