My mama used to tell me all the time how much she loves seeing my smiling face.

I was thinking about that during some conference programs I’ve attended in the last year, most of them rich with social media content and topics. Social media tools for the events industry are proliferating with warp speed as all of us race to capture our piece of the space and do our best to keep our event communities active 365.

It’s dizzying, really. Sometimes I think we feel the need to participate in new trends or risk damaging our brand reputation, or on a personal level, be considered really uncool—regardless of whether or not it’s good for business (or personal relationships for that matter). But even so, every event organizer, association, meeting planner, and marketing director should be asking itself how social media makes the most sense for its audience and deliver content and information to serve those needs. There are lots of tools to choose from and degrees to which you can get involved. Truth be told, it’s become clear that only a few of these tools and solutions will thrive (if history is to repeat itself).

So back to the various programs where everyone was trying to “contribute” to the social media conversation (read: status updates, twitter feeds, blogging, photos, you name it) while “in the moment.” As I sat through the sessions, I realized that no one, or very few, were actually looking up and paying attention to the presenters. What has happened to our meeting etiquette? Is it acceptable for the speakers to present to the top of our heads, versus connect with our eyes and establish some sense of engagement? Will there be new social “rules” that twittering during dinners, lunches, etc., IS socially acceptable?

Personally, I’m amazed as I walk through airports, wait in line at Starbucks, or (do we really need to say how bad this one is?) DRIVE and see so many people staring at their mobile devices — and adoption rates are still only about 30%. By the end of 2011 smart phone use is predicted to be closer to 50%. Do we need to be telling our stories 24/7? What about real-life social dialogue? What will our kids do and how will they communicate? Call me old school, but the way things are heading, we may have thousands of friends, but maybe no real shoulders to lean on. At the core of our human needs is social interaction. Real face-to-face listening, feeling, whole body language communicating. I hope we don’t forget about that as we look down to share what we ate for lunch.

What do you think public technology and social media etiquette should look like?

And here’s an offer: if you ever want to have lunch, meet for a drink, or just have coffee, give me a call and I promise not to text, email, or update my Facebook status the whole time.