James Moore, writes about Flash Bristow, a wheelchair user, who got off a bus to find herself being pushed at scary speeds across Tower Bridge in London. She didn’t ask for help. She just got abuse. And it left her frightened.
Sadly, no- one came to her rescue. People often don’t. Heads down in their iPads, busy socially connecting with global strangers.
It’s the age of the social revolution after all…
…’now how many followers have I got?’
Many of us who read the story are not in wheelchairs. Sure, we think it’s sad, despicable, shocking and we’d feel angry if it was our relative. We’d be livid if it was us.
But it’s not. So let’s keep our priorities in perspective.
Head down, work on…
…now how do I get @timberners_lee to retweet me?
Greedily gorging from one addictive story to the next, we’re not wired to take in this pain. We’re social beings. Like animals we recoil at the sight of pain, disaster and death. But this pain goes somewhere, internally, unsettlingly into our own need for survival. The vulnerability disappears and the protective walls go up.
Sure we can aspire to build multi – million dollar empires, but ending pain is out of our reach. Let’s stick to what we can manage.
As the Beatles put it, ‘All you need is like….da da da da da’ …
…and did you see how many likes the last Facebook post got.
The stories of peoples pain, simply remind us that we have no power.
Except we do.
The power to stay.
The power to be socially present.
The power to choose to engage.
We can choose to use our well honed skills for the benefit of the marginalised.
We may ‘fall behind’ on a few emails, but we could chose to get off the bus.
We may ‘dilute our message’, but we could choose to raise people’s awareness.
We may ‘fall behind’ in our social engagement, but we could choose to be social and engage.
Not simply acquire more numbers.
We could love. We could serve. We could give, listen, act, work, dance, protest, sing, campaign & plan for those who experience the pain we mostly ignore. To allow our hearts to melt and thaw a little. Now wouldn’t that be a good campaign.
We could be the content. We could be the message. We could join the story, the sharers and create the reach. We could go to all that effort for one person.
And all that effort for one person doesn’t give much of a return.
But some things don’t need to be measured; they don’t need justification. They’re just what we do. If you need to focus on your return on investment (ROI), engaging at depth with pain others face, listening to issues that matter, empathising and taking action all give us the greatest return on our invested time. That’s social media.
We’ll certainly grow to like our reflection in the mirror more as a result.
And after all, don’t many of us use social media as a numbing, ‘I’m worthwhile’, vanity exercise anyway. How’s angel wings for ROI?
As for me, I’ve taken time out of the need for more acquisition to write this post, and I’m polishing my halo already. No, I don’t want you to like or share this one. My ego’s satisfied already. Till tomorrow.
In the meantime, do you just suppose, some of us can make use of our time, skills, talents and money to support the marginalised today?
P.S. This post has been influenced and stimulated by three books I’ve been reading recently. I highly recommend each one.
The Power of Vulnerability by @brenebrown.
Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant.
Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Que Biz-Tech) by Olivier Blanchard.