Encouraging Randomness and Accelerating Serendipity

If you’re a heavy Twitter user like me, you may be familiar with the awkward, tense feeling that can grip you when a non-Twittering friend or co-worker decides that enough is enough and it’s time to confront you about your “habit” (Twintervention?). Regardless of the events that lead up to said awkward moment, the blank, confused-slash-condescending look that says “Whyyyyy do you do this?!” is often the same.  It’s happened to all of us at least once, hasn’t it? This situation doesn’t get my knickers in a twist anymore. I’ve armed myself with a canned answer. “I’m accelerating serendipity!” I’ll say with a boyish grin, and then wait for a response. On a few occasions, I’ve been able to turn this traditionally “ack” moment into a productive discussion. Let me explain…

I’m a big believer in the power of  engineering randomness into my life – it’s one of the main reasons I blog and use social media.  I firmly believe that getting yourself out there, engaging the world with an open mind and exploring the unknown is the best way to live because it leads invariably to positive experiences, new connections and new opportunity and possibility. In particular, I’ve found that Twitter is an awesome tool for accelerating the process of injecting random online experiences into my life and turning them into a source of offline fun, opportunity and possibility.

There’s just something about Twitter culture…converts will all tell you the same thing – whether they can put a name to the phenomenon or not – For many people on Twitter, knowing a stranger is a fellow Twitter user significantly reduces (and in most cases eliminates) that moment of off-line awkwardness that usually prevents us from introducing ourselves to strangers. For this very reason, the difference between showing up to a traditional networking event or to a Tweetup (meeting arranged through Twitter) is palpable.  I don’t know why this is so…maybe it’s that Twitter draws a certain type of person, maybe it’s that the emerging Twitter culture is making people feel differently about making social connections…who knows exactly. Whatever it is…the result is an acceleration of the number, variety and speed of offline connections you end up making – the small talk seems to disappear, guards drop and real connections are made exponentially faster. While I don’t advise anyone to over-do social media (we still need to work on being present in our lives), I think that opting in to services like Twitter with a “bring it on” attitude is a good thing.

I say all this knowing now that accelerating serendipity is real. In the last 4 months I’ve met a ton of people online that I now know offline and good things have already come from it. I’ve had great conversations and meals with fascinating new people, attended parties and meetups I never would have known about, had hundreds of people find and subscribe to my blog, I’ve even been a guest on TwitterTalkradio, won online contests and had an author send me a free copy of his book…. In each and every case I just mentioned, the initial point of contact was through Twitter. And I would have never  had the pleasure of getting to know these people or had these experiences otherwise. It’s serendipity in action.

Not convinced? Why not try it. Get out there. Encourace randomness in your life. You may be surprised at what happens.

Published by Steffan Antonas

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  1. steffanantonas April 28, 2009 at 1:30 am

    For the record -The term “Accelerating Serendipity” was first used by Tara Hunt. I heard it while listening to a podcast where she interviews Tony Hsieh (CEO Zappos). Tony mentions it in a discussion about Twitter and how it’s affected his personal network and friendships offline and gives Tara credit for coining the term. You can find the podcast in the archives on 3/02/2009 at TwitterTalkRadio.com

  2. I really like that phrase: “I’m accelerating serendipity.” That wraps it up very nicely.

    Ultimately, I believe we all crave community and connections, and technology, especially social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning and Twitter, has given us new ways to connect with others, no matter where they are. It’s those connections that we crave. I also see social media akin to picking up the phone, having a meeting, or joining a community organization, it’s a touchpoint and a mechanism for conversation. People forge relationships with other people, not with a brand, a business or technology. Contrary to popular belief, social networking sites tend to augment, rather than replace, offline interactions. One of the reasons why social media sites are so successful is their focus on supporting offline networks over online-only relationships.

    How is this possible? Before, the notion of “keeping in touch” was hard work. It required one if not both parties to actively pursue contact on an at least somewhat regular basis. Communication required time and planning. Social networking sites, on the other hand, are designed for easy, lightweight, ad hoc communication. They’re designed for “Accelerating Serendipity” as you’ve said! Good stuff Steffan!

    1. steffanantonas April 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

      Well said, Jeff. I think you’re spot on. We all crave these types of connections and the technology is conveniently augmenting (not replacing) real life interaction for those of us who recognize the importance of turning the connections we make online to offline relationships. :)

  3. [...] and encourage my friends whether online or in person, how special they are. As my online friend Steffan Antonas says, “It’s about encouraging randomness and accelerating serendipity in others’ [...]

  4. [...] a long post about how social media has helped me achieve my offline goals a few months ago called Encouraging Randomness and Accelerating Serendipity. Please check it out if you have the [...]

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