Social media can be amazing – bringing people together from all parts of the world, opening conversations and creating lasting relationships. Just look at Twitter – we can have thousands of followers and can also follow thousands back. We are told that there are 200 million tweets published per day. That’s a lot of talk.

But add this into Facebook where we can be “friends” with many that are close and also with many that we have not seen in years. There are over 750 million active users and we each have, on average 130 friends. We spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the platform with the big blue top bar. But with all this connection are we missing something?

Clearly, social media has a powerful impact on our lives. It can be used to bring us closer to people we care about, allowing us to connect, send messages, updates and so on. But while we may read these updates, that reading is often done in silence. Without acknowledgement. Occasionally we may “like” an update or retweet someone’s message. If pushed we may leave a comment on a blog. But even “participating” in social media can be a lonely business.

That’s why I am such an advocate of #coffeemornings. It’s a chance to leave the technology behind and to get up close and personal with those who we are slowly transforming from “Friends” to friends. You see, while I enjoy social media, I also see that it can also be a way to push people away – to keep others at a distance.

This morning I was shocked to hear of the death of Trey Pennington, well-known marketer and social media advocate. And while we had not met, the shock waves sped around the planet and hit hard. What could have happened? I wondered if it was a car accident. As Kris Colvin explains, it wasn’t. It was, however, a tragedy.

TreyPenningtonGoodbye Depression is a powerful illness. My friends taking the Black Dog Ride across Australia aim to raise awareness of depression and its impact. My own efforts with The Perfect Gift for a Man – a book and ebook with 30 stories about reinventing manhood – and Ehon Chan’s Soften the Fck Up both seek to amplify alternatives. And we have Movember starting up soon.

But while raising funds is important, we need to go beyond this too. We need to check in on our friends. Even the ones that seem fine. We need to make the time for a phone call or a coffee. Share the link to The Perfect Gift for a Man free ebook – or better yet, buy a copy for someone you love – after all, research shows us that sharing these stories has a significant impact on people.

I’m saddened to hear of Trey’s death. I’m sad for his family and friends. And I am sad that while we can be surrounded by thousands, we can still feel isolated and alone. It seems that we’re all talking – but please, do take time to listen. Carefully. Someone’s life could depend on it.

Rest in peace, Trey Pennington.

If you feel you aren’t coping – in Australia – you can Call Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis line on 13 11 14 for support or dial 000 if life is in danger.