I have been thinking about writing a blog on this topic for several years. There are days that I say social media is a curse, possibly because I am sitting here cursing my computer. Let’s face it, it takes a large chunk of time to stay on top of it all. I consider myself an average user even though I have a blog, monitor and post in a few forums, occasionally tweet and check Facebook and Instagram daily. I figure that if I wanted to use these tools effectively, it could easily consume 2+hours a day. And that does not even count the time online checking email, websites, etc.
I really like blogs (reading and posting) and Instagram. Blogs because you can find good info on topics you are interested in and ask questions. Instagram because I have always enjoyed taking photos and Instagram is quick. I am trying to embrace Twitter but to date it seems like way too much info being exchanged at a rapid pace. Facebook is almost a must have, like a good pair of black dress pants. It is so mainstream that I check everyday but don’t have enough time to post much.
Social media is a time suck – period. But more than the amount of time it consumes, I worry that long term we will become a society of people who never converse face-to-face. Now that I typed that, I admit that if social media went away tomorrow I’m probably the one who won’t make time to be with my friends and family. Social media actually helps me stay in touch with people that I would have lost track of a long time ago. And isn’t it funny, that they may not even know how connected I feel to them? Thank you to all my friends who post regularly, especially photos of you and your kids.
Okay, so social media can consume a considerable amount of time on your daily planner. Now think about all of the jobs that you used to spend hours on that are now automated. If you look at it that way, a few hours cruising the social media scene doesn’t seem all that bad.
I first thought of writing this blog back in September of 2011, hours after the destruction of Tropical Storm Irene was felt. A local person (I think) set up a group on Facebook called Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Relief Support Network. This group allowed us to share information as it happened. Important stuff like, we need more facemasks. And a few hours later a post would appear that read, facemasks have been delivered. We could figure out where and when volunteers were needed or if a family had a specific request for something. We found out what roads were open and which were closed. It became our life line. I spent hours reading each post and then as our guests asked questions, we could give them accurate information. Yes, that road is open or no, we don’t need any more diapers. All of you who made it through Sandy can tell similar stories. It makes you wonder, what did they do back in 1938 when the town of Wilmington flooded?
Just recently I was working on a fundraiser for a friend with cancer. We decided to have an event at the town hall – dinner and a silent auction. I created an event on Facebook and within minutes of posting, a local business, Stone Puddles, private messaged me and donated wind chimes for the auction. A few minutes later another donation came in. The next day, I thanked them on Facebook for their donation and a few more donations came in. This went on for weeks leading up to the event and through the social networking, many people in town (and beyond) found out about the effort and contributed. People as far away as Japan, sent donations. We held the event on Wednesday night and planned for 200 people to attend. We estimate 400+ showed up. 400 caring and generous people.
The result is that our friend can focus all of her attention on her family and her health. She does not have to worry about bills piling up and I think that is a big, curing, stress relief. So cure…I declare that social media is a CURE.
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