In the shadow of the tragic suicides that have occurred recently as a result of social media, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of how powerful the platform is.
Before I delve into my thoughts on this, I want to give a plug to something @RLMadMan is doing. Wednesday night there will be a Twitter Town Hall meeting hosted by @RLMadMan called #SMS – Suicide Must Stop. I’m going to be there and I hope that you will consider joining the discussion.
For me social media, and Twitter in particular, has been wonderful. I have learned so much. I have met so many wonderful people, and feel that I am supported, entertained, instructed and connected in a healthy and productive way. Beyond that, I feel as though I have been able to connect with people who I would never have access to in real life; for reasons of geography, age, race, and profession. In many cases, my path simply would not cross the path of the people I have met on Twitter. Twitter makes it possible. It’s really remarkable when you think about it.
There is a lot of talk in social media circles about being your authentic self. There are many facets to any particular self and as a result my Twitter group is made up of a lot of diverse people.
Through some tweets on sports, I became friends with a young black man who is a college student. We’ve talked, one on one, about Reggie Bush giving back the Heisman, the return of Michael Vick, Favre (I don’t like him, my buddy does), college football and from there the discussion has gone to school, how to make each day better than the last. We would never be friends in real life. I’m sound asleep hours before he’s getting ready to go to the clubs. I’m up in the morning before he gets home. His afternoons are spent at school while I’m wrapping up work for my clients. Our paths in real life simply would not have crossed; but what a blessing that we can be friends on Twitter. Following one of our back and forth tweeting – he said “I really appreciate your wisdom and that you keep at me.” I was very touched. And I am so appreciative of his honesty and sharing of his life and aspirations. I care about his life. And, once again, it struck me how powerful this medium is. You can actually get past your own “normal” and get to know, like and trust people that you otherwise would have never known; breaking the silos of generation, geography, race and probably a few more.
Through some tweets with an old friend and colleague, I was introduced to my now virtual intern. During the holidays, I was able to tweet with a young, single mother with a special needs child who was at the end of her rope.
And every day, I have the brilliance, support and resources of some excellent marketing people, writers, designers who inspire me daily. Through them I am able to deliver for my clients in ways I couldn’t imagine even six months ago.
In real life I am an introvert and somewhat reclusive. Social media has allowed me to interact with people who, even if I got out more, I’d never have the chance to know the way I know them through Twitter – and all because of a follow here, a follow there, a chat on Saturday, a chat on Sunday.
I know that Twitter has helped me become a better person and a better friend and a better mentor. I can’t help but believe that we can all put this to work to make the world a little less painful and a little more loving.