It’s not easy being in any relationship.
We all have IRL relationships with friends, parents, children, spouses, work, play, and church. Is it possible to have virtual streaming relationships? Are these streaming relationships even real? Making and keeping relationships are critical to our well being, even the virtual ones so yes streaming relationships are just as critical and beneficial to us as the real ones.
When you watch someone streaming on Twitch, Mixer or any platform that person is most likely building a community and building relationships. It’s all about relationships. The Community is built around relationships, and for streamers, relationships turn viewers into followers who then become subscribers.
How is the virtual world different from the real world? Humans are the same no matter where you meet them. Yes, folks hide behind their avatars in the virtual world and can become vicious trolls and behave in ways they would never act when face to face with others. Building a streaming relationship looks to be harder to develop and harder to hold than IRL. Does it have to be harder?
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15
Virtual relationships are easier to jettison and void where we don’t ever have to see the person again. You don’t even know why they left as you can’t see or talk to them. They were here one day and the next all signs of them are gone with no way to contact them by email, Twitch or Discord and even their names are now blocked.
The flip side is that it's easier to stay in touch with virtual friends. Discord, Facebook, text message, and in game chat all allow us to interact whenever we can. IRL means making an appointment and driving someplace to meet up.
Building relationships is even more paramount for a Christian streamer. Sharing the gospel has never been a one-shot deal with no follow up. Without a relationship, you can’t follow up even if you consider a seed has been planted. So many who come to Jesus state it was from a relationship with others who loved them and had a relationship with them.
When sharing the gospel, there seems to be two approaches. The direct approach method where you just share to whomever you run across, mostly strangers. The other is through the building of a relationship first. Same for Christian streamers.
In the blogpost on stigmas, the news of SouyLive changing his Twitch name from PastorSouZy also came with the caveat that his content was not going to change. In his latest update on how the name change has been received, SouZy mentioned that with the name change came how he approached people joining his stream. When he was PastorSouZy, he immediately noted to new viewers his faith. Now as SouZyLive, he builds a relationship first during the stream and then shares his faith. In the faith first format, new folks would leave pretty quickly. Now in the relationship first format, viewers stay around longer and don’t leave when he shares his faith.
A streaming relationship.
In a YouTube video called “The Secret to Online Influence”, Franc Carreras says that great influencers put their audiences on a pedestal with the influencer looking up to them instead of expecting the audience to put the influencer on a pedestal. Those who put themselves on the pedestal will fail. He also notes three takeaways because “it's all about them, not about you”.
1. Thanks – Appreciating the audience
2. Praise – Recognizing the audience; building trust
3. Generosity - Giving ideas, thoughts, content, connections
I have been so blessed by all of the great folks I have met while streaming and watching others stream. Making these relationships is a blessing to my life by being taught and it is easy to stop following or reading messages from folks when they upset us or express something hurtful. That makes it even harder to work on those relationships but it’s very much worth it.
Yes, it is harder to maintain a virtual relationship so we have to be so much more intentional in maintaining that relationship.
As I wrote this article, I kept waffling on whether or not IRL and Virtual were that different and I kept coming back to how it is in all relationships. You must exercise it. You must be intentional in maintaining the relationship. Different, yes. Similarities are much more.