In a world that counts clicks, measures shares, and defines you by one image, it's easy to get lost between the difference of who they see and who you are. But, how much of this translates into real life-sharing; the transfer of empathy, listening, and understanding? Because at the heart of it, we all just want to be heard, to be understood.
How many friends do you have on Facebook? How many followers do you have on Instagram? How do you measure their worth? Do you like Jennifer because she always "likes all your posts"? What is it about Evan's family photo's that make you wish yours was better? How come everybody follows Carrie's posts, but not yours? Why is his business flourishing while yours goes unseen, unliked, and unshared?
Back in the 90's, when the rebirth of neo-hippies and rebellion was at it's apex, communication seemed easier. Sure, we may have met on an aol chat board, but we also met in person. We didn't really have the opportunity to judge each other by a profile image; instead we read their user name, trying to decipher the deeper meaning to "BabyG1rL3648".
But even then, we didn't count our worth by the number of followers on a screen, or how many shares we got. Only the stock market functioned like that, which when you think about it, is a precursor to what we have now. A market of humans, their worth defined by shares, demand, and who's buying. How did we become brokers of people? How did we get to a place where your worth is defined by the number of shares you have, and when did you decide to play the market yourself?
While there is certainly a movement to reduce or remove social media from our daily lives, most of us can't stop the dopamine-inducing glow of another comment, like, or follow.
If you have a business, the demand is even higher for you to be talked about, shared and reviewed. "It's a must" every marketer will tell you. The business owner now has the dubious job of maintaining both a personal brand like everyone else, and a business brand.
And while most of us will say that we hate social media, we are the driving force that created the boom. It's a self-inflicted storm, the climate change of the human condition; our need to be heard birthed only a competition of who could be the loudest. Albeit, there are many profound and wonderful things about bringing the world together through social media; allowing us to see our grand children, follow our college friends, and stay in touch with those we love. But is that how we are really using it?
I challenge you to ask yourself how having hundreds of friends has changed your life from only having a handful in the 90's.
I challenge you to ask yourself how much work you’re putting into your image vs. how much work you put into yourself as a person.
What if there was a way to use this superficial way of life for our good? What if, dare I question, we used the power of social media to create deeply personal relationships? What if we played the stock market of social media and share- trading with purpose? Could we really change the world and how we define the value of others?
I did some math to find out, and I think that you'll see the numbers are in your favor.
If the average Facebook user has (let's say) 500 friends, then statistically speaking, about 65 of them are business owners. How many of your Facebook friends do you buy from consistently?
As an example, Lisa has a catering business and loves making pastries for events. She shares all about it and tells her friends. When she first started, she knew success would be right around the corner. After all, she has so many friends and family... she knew it would be a booming success.
But, her friends rarely shared her business. People loved her photos, but her phone wasn't ringing. How could social media help her grow her business and, how is this related to developing deeper relationships?
Well, think about it. If 25% of Lisa's friends catered from her just once a year, it would change her life, and that of her family forever. If 125 people spent $200 just once a year for catering, her family would have $25,000. Maybe they could move out of their kitchen and rent a real kitchen; maybe her son could go to college; maybe, they could take care of an ill family member. It would change their lives permanently.
Eddie loves animals, and since retirement, has devoted her life to rescuing dogs, giving them love, and finding homes for the homeless. There isn't a day that she doesn't wake up ready to save a life. She shares her photos on social media and pleads for adoptions and donations to help care for the wounded animals. If one hundred of her friends were local, and just a revolving 10% rescued an animal every two years, that would be 10-12 lives saved a year.
Anthony has just earned his certification in Massage Therapy, and though he's still living with his mom, he's excited to start his own practice to help people. But getting a job at a chiropractor's office wasn't as easy as he'd hoped, and business owners wouldn't allow him to put up his massage chair and home-made sign outside of their stores. He only asks $40 for an hour massage, but it's hard getting out there. How would Anthony's life change if half of his local friends bought gift certificates from him each year for their friends, family, or themselves? Anthony would have $2,000 extra every year, and while that may not seem like a lot of money to you, to a budding entrepreneur, it's life altering.
Beyond the monetary gains of supporting one another, comes the invaluable gift of self confidence, brotherhood and understanding which far-outweighs anything the stock market of social media can produce.
If social media was created out of the deep human desire to be heard and understood, then it is of greatest value when we use it as such; to change the lives of those around us.
If you're going to buy make-up anyway, why not buy it from your friend, instead of Macy's? How could your one act of kindness change her life, and how would knowing that change yours?
If you have an average of 500 friends or followers, about 65 of them are business owners, and about 5-10 are marketing a service or product. What if you chose to do business with them instead of Walmart? How would you feel knowing you had been the one to give such a gift? How many followers is one loyal friend worth?
What if you're an entrepreneur, selling home made picture frames, or custom made clothing? What would happen if everyone of your friends bought just once a year from you? How would that change your life?
Social Media doesn’t have to be the weighing of what’s superficial. It can be the vehicle to changing the world. It can alter the future of people you know and those that you don’t know. You, the one reading this right now, have the power to directly change the lives of about 65 people. Right now.
What if today you decided to ask all of your friends and followers to list their business? What if you had their business cards and referred them to your local friends? What if your value was tied to the value you gave to others, instead of the number of Likes on a photo?
What if, the answer to the deep human need to be heard, is not a competition to be the loudest? We must go deeper than Shares, be more engaged than a quick emoji, and willing to protest the sales of our values for followers.
In a world that counts clicks, measures shares, and defines you by one image, it's never been easier to give the human stock market the finger, and change the outcomes for thousands of people just like you. You have the power to change the world. Why waste it on Instagraming your lunch?
Why play the social media market at all? What are you selling to the world and what are you being forced to trade for it? The power is literally in your finger tips.
I challenge you to seek out just 5 social media friends and support their business, mission, and goals. Buy their shirt. Get your hair done. Help them adopt a puppy. Be the change that you yourself so badly desire. Listen, so that you can be heard.**
If 10,000 people read this article and take up this challenge, 50,000 lives will be touched, and that’s way better than whatever Meme you just shared.
Linda Lavender writes articles to help folks with Auto Immune Disease, Depression, Anxiety and other health related illnesses.