This week I went to the Alamo Drafthouse theatre here in Austin and saw the new film "I Love You, Man" with Jason Segel and Paul Rudd. It was quite an experience. First, they served some great food and wine (I'm not much of a beer drinker), then I got to watch the new Star Trek trailer, and then, once the tears has dried from my eyes (yes, I get that emotinal about a good sci-fi film) I laughed 'till it hurt. It was a really, really good time. Afterwards though, I started thinking about some of the more serious messages in the film and the value of having a support system of friends that you can rely on.
As adults, sometimes establishing a support system can be difficult. Life transitions like moving, changing jobs, getting married or unmarried, , having kids, and even sometimes changing gyms can wreak havoc on your network social network. Because of this and because these transitions seem to happen more often today than in the past, the value of good friends and companions is higher than ever.
The same can be said about the importance of having a social network on a professional level. Having people that you go to when you're hitting technical issues that you haven't seen before or just to bounce ideas off of is a huge help. I've got buddies that I use when I need help analyzing a packet capture, when I'm considering some radical routing changes and need a second opinion, and when I'm about to move a subnet to IPv6 here in the lab. The thing that I have in common with all of these people is that all hang out here on Thwack.com.
Online social networks have several advantages over traditional social networking methods. First off, they're accessible all the time. It's after midnight here in Austin and I'm logged into Thwack and checking into some posts on the Orion forum as I write this. Second, it doesn't matter where you are. If you decide to move to a new part of the country for a new job you can take your online social network with you whereas your buddies at the gym will probably get left by the wayside.
The other advantage that online social networks have is scale. Where else could I communicate with over 20,000 people that share common interests, concerns, and experience as I have? So, to all of my fellow Thwackers out there, thanks for joining and I'm glad to be a part of your network.
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