I’m having a love affair with Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, and Google + fill my day and
allow me to explore thousands of friendships without leaving my desk. For every lover of Social Media there is a critic and I try to see things from his/her point of view, but it is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to follow the argument that Social Media is bad. In my case, Social Media has helped me break my isolationist ways, exposed my work to multiple thousands of people (dare I believe more?), connected me with people from several continents, and shown me the power of a virtual/on-line bond.
Often I see my Facebook friends imploring their friends to pray for a specific friend or relative who is suffering, in danger, sick, or otherwise down on their luck. Immediately the request is fulfilled with well-wishers offering prayers, good thoughts, and positive vibes. Believing in the power of prayer and recognizing there is power in numbers, I feel this kind of outreach program not only helps the person being prayed for but the person requesting the prayers. When we reach out to one another, even and especially virtually, we feel an immediate connection and some relief of anxiety. We are cared for, heard, obeyed, and justified. Regardless of religious beliefs, our needs are met by those who care for us. I do not see thousands of people daily or hundreds for that matter. But online my world grows exponentially. These friends are no less precious and their prayers no less effective because we haven’t met in person.
Personal struggles and triumphs are also played out in tweets, status updates, and streams. Losing weight, quitting smoking, learning to square dance, or helping a child learn to potty train are all fair fodder for these announcements and personal cheering sections spring up to support. Stories are told in kind, moral support is given, and laughs are shared getting through milestones. With more of a pool of people to express my life to, the more I find who identify with me and what I go through and vice versa. Many people find it easier to be honest online than in their “real” lives. I’m a rare bird who is brutally honest in both fronts, but understand the release experienced by many who leave honesty for their online lives. On the flip side, there are plenty of people who use the virtual world as their playground, lying to all who they come in contact using false pictures, profiles, et al. Over time you try to learn to navigate away from those fakers. I completely understand the critics who caution against internet/Social Media users because of these trolls, but I still try to see the good in all and stay alert for the unscrupulous. For the most part I have been very lucky to have come in contact with true people with good hearts, good intentions, and good character.
Information sharing is huge online. From breaking news stories to local school closings due to inclement weather, I learn much online via Social Media. Like all things, it is necessary to check sources and double check validity, but the fast pace of communication carrying vital information is staggering. Not only do I learn from this superhighway but I have been utilizing it to get my own work out there. I post a piece, begin promoting it, and, within minutes, friends and readers are sharing it with their friends and so on ad infinitum. In addition, the personalities I come in contact is mind-blowing: athletes, musicians, journalists, heads of business, and men and women who perform all types of jobs. From the famous to the everyman, I have access to the entire world!
Hackers lurk, liars prey, bad people are ever-present online as in real life, but, in my experience, they are few and far between. If you defend yourself against spam, indecent people, and cads you can find the world of Social Media is a truly wonderful place to be and belong. Social Media has changed my life for the better, broadened my social circle, awakened me to new ideas and personalities, and exposed my work to the world! My love affair with Social Media seems to be intact and strong. I invite you to stay a part of it!