Wednesday, August 3, 2011
For weeks now I've been meaning to get back to a blog I began a month ago--about the potential of social media to effect social (community) change. Returning to work after three months and having to remember what it was like to get up at 6 every morning, I set it aside. I then got "sidetracked" –more aptly, heartbroken – by the chaos in Atlanta's public schools, and wrote a blog that called for community healing. I planned, this past weekend, to get back to the social media conversation, although I knew it would be a stretch to apply my nascent experience in the virtual world to credibly analyzing its potential to change lives. In hindsight, I think I may have been avoiding it.
Then I got a posting from a visionary and passionate colleague, I'll call him "N", who is prolific in both his use of social media and his desire to change the world for the better. He posted about his experience helping people recover from the Tsunami in Japan… and inspired me and many of his friends to comment, applaud and learn more. I realized acutely that the time it was taking me to hone my thinking and words was the opposite of the best that social media has to offer—raw, immediate, sometimes visceral exposure and opportunities to grow. In short, my beliefs are that Social Media moves, lives, motivates, advances…at the speed of light. At the turn of a dime. At the click of a keystroke. Without action, it is limited in its impact. Combined with thoughtful action, it is powerful.
N spends lots of time thinking, reading and sharing what is important to him with others; a review of his Face book wall reveals a deep and sensitive mind. But he goes further by acting and grounding his beliefs with experience and perspective. He then returns to share this enhanced, deepened experience with others, affirming for himself and all of us that these ideals do pass the test.
N lives what I have been attempting to articulate. I lament my reticence and pathology to "get it right", ignoring the beautiful simplicity of being able – immediately—to share what were for me still emerging perceptions. I realize I can use his example to demonstrate my burgeoning theories on the intersection and connectivity of Social Media and social good, as he's already cooked and served what I am still building the recipe for.
He doesn't know I'm writing this (I'll share it once it's up) but I so appreciate his example of what can be. And I'm also lovin' him for bestowing a sister tottering between two worlds just a little more time to get it together.
Lesley Grady has spent 30 years working to develop and strengthen communities. In those years, her personal, professional and civic activities have allowed her to connect with diverse groups and perspectives to better understand how to create positive change and solutions to community needs.