Here’s When Social Media is at its Best
I believe social media is at its best when you create opportunities for online interactions to lead to deeper offline relationships.
Four years ago, Coca-Cola released a video ad for their initiative, “Small World Machines,” that made me fall in love with the connective power of technology. In the commercial, Coco-Cola “set out to break down barriers and create a simple moment of connection between two nations — India and Pakistan.”
Coca-Cola sought to create this connection through soda machines in each country that allowed for people in India and Pakistan to interact with one another by completing tasks like touching hands or drawing peace, love and happiness symbols.
I credit this ad with showing me that technology can be used with purpose in mind. Through technology, we have the opportunity to create space for relationships with people of different ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, political opinions, etc. You can even Skype with an entire class of 5th & 6th graders from Canada like I did back in April and empower them to spread kindness in their communities.
However, in my opinion, the beauty of technology is not what happens online, but what those interactions lead to offline. While social media has been a great catalyst for spreading the mission of Car Window Poetry around the world, the real work happens when you are empowered to step away from your phone or computer, write a poem or two, and go out and share those words of hope and love with hurting people around you.
If you’ll allow me to be vulnerable, I remember talking to my friend on the phone back in December and venting to her about how frustrated I was that people weren’t taking pictures of the poems they received and sharing them on Instagram. She then asked me one of the most important questions I’ve heard since starting Car Window Poetry: “How often do you go out and share poems?”
Caught off guard, I began pridefully offering excuses for why I wasn’t sharing poems as much as I should be. Then, it hit me: a movement requires movement. That day, I made a conscious decision to go out as many days as possible during the week and share poems with people in my community. And it’s funny — when I went out that day, I got an email later on from a woman who desperately needed the poem she received.
Another area where I’ve seen online interactions lead to deeper offline relationships is in my job with Young Life. I oversee the brand direction for Young Life on the organization’s mission-wide social media channels, and, back in June, I came across a picture of two coffee cups posted by a Young Life leader in Los Angeles.
I thought it was a cool shot, so I decided to repost the picture on Young Life’s social channels. Then, I offhandedly captioned the photo with, “Tag the Young Life leader you want to go on a coffee date with this summer!”
What happened next I didn’t expect. Kids began tagging their Young Life leaders, and then Young Life leaders began setting up coffee dates with their kids right there in the comments.
This may not seem like that big of deal, but I geeked out because Young Life is built on caring adults who are concerned enough about kids to enter their worlds, walk alongside them, and build bridges of authentic friendship. Who knows what that conversation over coffee could lead to?
Yes, there’s a lot happening online. But coming from someone who gets paid to be on social media, none of it is more beautiful than the miracles that happen when we step out and share a poem, or invite someone to get coffee. Social media isn’t evil. Just like words, it’s neither good nor bad. It’s how you use it that determines its value. So why not use technology as a tool for deeper relationships instead of instant gratification?
Because, at the end of the day, quick pleasure is cheap pleasure. And instant gratification is nothing more than infatuation.
I’m excited to announce the launch of my new website and social media coaching services!
With a deep desire to help people experience deeper offline experiences through online interactions, I want to help you reach your dreams by coaching you on how to better tell your story on social media.
Keep up with more of my stories here.