Saying social media has as much place as graffiti frightens and disappoints me no end.
I’m one of many, many people using social media for social good, and these words feel closed minded, insulting and callous.
Social media fosters diverse, important discussion. It is also used to entertain, educate, connect and let a broad audience know how policies, prices and change impacts on individuals. It’s a public, current census, identifying the state of the world. And graffiti is not just ugly scrawl. Have you seen Hosier Lane?
I am tired of people who don’t use social media tell me that it’s dangerous, pointless and reputation ruining. I feel sad that such people will never open their minds to the connection and change that social media can bring.
They’ll never know how wonderful it is to form a friendship with a like-minded person from across the world.
They’ll never know the relief of someone who has lost everything receiving support after a natural disaster – through generous, can-do people banding together online.
They’ll never know the chills experienced receiving an email to tell them their words have changed their life for the better – because until they came across a blog or a tweet, they thought they were all alone.
They’ll never understand how program we watch or listen to alone can be turned into a community event with the second screen.
They’ll never know how a blog’s following can raise $20 or $200,000 for people in need.
They’ll never be able to experience the pride of taking an online community into an offline community.
I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is having to prove that I’m using social media for good – because attitudes against social media combined with inexperience set the standard. In a meeting with a superior, I was told that there are concerns that I am too passionate about social media, disability and appearance diversity, and this might be a problem. When I invited them to have a read of my blog and social media, I was told they don’t use the medium.
Of course social media is used poorly. I’ve been on the receiving end of poor use. Hell, I’ve occasionally made some poor choices when on social media, I regret losing a few friendships through it. People are bullied online. Reputations are ruined. Information is leaked, or misinformation spread. I’ve seen some terrible hate speech. I see it every day. But I see – and experience – how the good outweighs this negativity thousandfold.
But these people – the ones who don’t use social media, who think it has no purpose, dangerous even – have got to start trusting those who use it well. Enough with encouraging employees to dob in their colleagues. Enough with the distrust yet lack of willingness to explore the positive options.
What I do through blogging and my social media channels to create social change is more than just illegal scrawl on an abandoned train.