Community

Strength In Numbers: Appreciation for Community

twitter for better by iamsin

Social media and the online world is a funny, sometimes even fickle thing. People whom you’ve considered acquaintances, dared to deem friends, and a community you believed to be supportive and encouraging can all be uprooted in a moment. If you let it.

I’m a huge advocate for social media because I’ve witnessed its benefits and successes firsthand. By laying the foundation for a strong community, social media builds upon conversation and connections to make the world seem smaller, to share news and stories, to report on successes and failures so that we can all feel that familiar pride or sympathy, but most importantly, so we can learn.

I always thought of social media as a relatively safe place — the blog was a platform for personal growth while gaining new perspectives and valued insight; Facebook was a way to connect and reconnect; and Twitter…Twitter is somewhat of a magical world wherein you can converse, debate, share information, share a part of yourself. Twitter is the tie that binds those spread across various locales together, connecting us with another human being and deepening that bond. Some may say it’s superficial, and taking a look at the trending topics and the communities that some choose to build, that point is certainly valid. But these platforms are always what you make of them, and I have seen extraordinary connections being made as we peel back layer after layer and get to know each other as neighbors, as world-wide colleagues, as potential friends.

With social media, specifically Twitter as that platform, I have set that foundation and have subsequently built and become a part of such a strong community, filled with good, genuine, and generous people, whom I am honored to have met when it otherwise may not have been possible, many of whom have become real-life friends. I’m proud of this community, this network, because of those who work hard to make it worthwhile, engaging in conversation and valuable debate that offer perspectives and insight, that allow you to change and grow and become an overall better person.

However.

Unfortunately, there are some who willingly take advantage of that, who infiltrate the community and poison the good, perhaps only because they are feeling vindictive and calculating and maybe even unreasonably, unnecessarily threatened. Perhaps they truly, innocently misunderstand, but more often than not, as I’ve recently learned, there are those who wish to do more harm than good for no perceivable reason other than the fact that they are petty and callous. Yes, there are some people in this world who would rather remain seated behind the cloaked safety of the internet and place judgment on others, make faulty assumptions, and wreak upset on a life rather than actively communicate concern, engage in discussion, and connect with or get to know the person behind the name.

I’ve been told before that I can be too trusting of people, too naive. I completely agree. It’s almost to a fault. I like to believe that people are generally good, that they have given the world a reason to have faith in them and that they will prove the world right. I’ve recently been proven wrong, and through trusting blindly I have been affected and am deeply disappointed and saddened, if not a bit unclear and confused by the motivations behind the actions.

And yet, even still, I have found that one person cannot shake my belief in people, and it certainly cannot shake my belief in myself. If anything, it is making me stronger, and them seem a little weaker.

I believe in social media and I advocate for it every chance I get. It is a strong community like any other, where @names are house numbers and @replies are the doorbells, introducing potential friends and welcoming conversation and connections. My faith in this platform and my belief in this community is stronger than ever. As such, my faith and belief in myself remains unwavering.

Can you say the same?

14 thoughts on “Strength In Numbers: Appreciation for Community”

  1. Dear One,
    I have been out of touch and have not been able to keep up with your news. What happened?
    Your friend,
    Benjamin

  2. Dear One,
    Because of your post, and my curiosity, last night I created a Twitter account. Let the magic begin!
    Your friend,
    Benjamin Bunny

  3. I think those who are speculative of social media lose so much.
    It is true that the internet includes people who are not what they seem. The internet includes people who are cruel, who are selfish, who will take advantage of anything and anyone. Then again, the same can be said for that new neighbor who just moved in next door to you. The world is full of these people.
    I think the best way I can live my life is to move through it openly, to give things a chance. If they don’t work out, then at least I know that I wasn’t at fault–that I tried a friendship, a work relationship, a new experience.
    Life hurts. If you go through it without hurting along the way, you’re doing it wrong.

  4. Susan, this is such a mature outlook. When something bad happens like this, we have two choices: we can either take it as a learning experience and move on, or we can allow it to negatively affect our overall opinion. I recently wrote a post about how to be nice without being a pushover, and I think it ties in with this. We can be trusting of people and have faith in social media without being totally naive. Like most things, I think it’s all about balance. Loved this post!

  5. Sarah: Thanks for the support! And for always being there. I’d say more, but…you know. 🙂

    Benjamin: Great to see you again! And great to see you on Twitter; I look forward to interacting more. Fortunately, I wasn’t hacked. Unfortunately, I’ve had to realize the negative aspects of social networking in light of recent events that I’m choosing not to disclose here. For now. Suffice it to say, however, that I place a lot of value on these communities and hold true to what I express in the post. It’s readers — and friends, like you — who make it worth the while. Thanks for standing by and sticking around. Good to see you again, and I hope all is well with you!

    Anna: I completely agree. Technology is rapidly changing the face of businesses, education, communication and how we relate and interact with one another. By not embracing this technology, by possibly even going so far as to disparage those who find value, creates such a negative force for something that has such a positive impact on so many. You’re correct to say that there are these people who exist everywhere, not just online, but I can’t help but wonder if anonymity helps them (falsely, considering that nothing is truly anonymous anymore) makes them feel more secure, eager to cause upset.

    I admire your outlook on life so much and only dare to hope that I can move through my own life in the same way. Thanks, Anna, as always for your tremendous insight and perspective.

    Sam: Thanks so much for your comment (and for your own beautiful post on the positive force of a community!). I completely agree that outlook is everything, and thinking positively means that you can learn, and learning is perhaps the most important thing. I love your comment, Sam, thanks so much for your thoughts (and your blog post!)

  6. Susan! I rejoiced when you got on the social media bandwagon, especially when I realized that you were composing your own tunes. I joined Twitter long ago when no one quite knew what the hell it was, but it was YOU who made me realize the capacity for using such a tool. Your blogs inspire, though I don’t comment or tell you much. I wish I had the capacity to write so prolifically and also to share my feelings and thoughts that I am sometimes so reluctant to do on paper. I’m sorry you had an unfortunate incident, but don’t let it derail you and your efforts. You’re awesome 🙂

  7. For the rest of my life there are two days that will never again trouble me.

    The first day is yesterday with all its blunders and tears, its follies and defects. Yesterday has passed forever beyond my control.

    The other day is tomorrow with its pitfalls and threats, its dangers and mystery. Until the sun rises again, I have no stake in tomorrow, for it is still unborn. — Og Mandino

    Susan: Be Here. Now. Courage and fortitude. Always. Your friend, Benjamin

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  9. I can’t say enough about what social media and networking has done for me over the past six months. It’s become an integral part of my daily life because it fuels my passion for writing, and I’ve met (and continue to meet) amazing people – this includes you – that I’ve learned from, and hopefully reached out and had an impact on myself. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without the support of so many of you out there – it’s this support that inspires me to do more, to keep coming up with innovative ideas, to reach out and show my appreciation to all of you again and again. We are in unison for the ‘appreciation of community’ – cheers to you for being an important piece in my social media puzzle!

  10. Susan I too, have a lot of faith in the online community. I think it’s a combination in that I trust people pretty easily and also that first-hand, I’ve been so moved by the community support that I’ve experienced online. I’ve met great friends online and I know parts of their lives we can share (via blogging, twitter, etc.) and when you ask a question on like Twitter, I know I will get an answer. People care and sometimes it’s transferred online because you wouldn’t be able to interact with those people daily, without it.

    Great post. I think keeping the faith up is smart 🙂

  11. Lyssa: I remember you were one of the first people I followed on Twitter; I loved that blend of real-life friends with those I had met online. It’s like drawing two worlds into one — real-life friends staying in touch through social media, and those with whom we’ve connected through these forms slowly becoming those real-life friends as well. It doesn’t get any better than that. 😉 So much love to you!

    Matt: I love your comment because it’s so honest and so true. I can’t agree more — I don’t know where I would be without the blog, without this community. The support and encouragement I’ve found has been overwhelming and positive, and the perspectives and insight people offer are ones that I always appreciate and value. This is what community is about — building people up, not tearing them down; being a positive force in another’s life, not negative. It’s about being there, rooting each other on, cultivating friendships. That’s what I’ve found in each and every person I connect with. And that’s what I hope you’ve found, and have a pretty good idea that you have, Matt, for yourself. Thanks for being that important piece of the puzzle as well — you’re a great asset to the community! Best to you and good luck in Chicago!

    Grace: Your comment, the comments of everyone here, completely reinforces my faith and I’ll always be grateful for that. I’m so disappointed and a little bit hurt, I admit, to see that one person could put such a damper on something that is so good and so important, but I’ve also realized that what’s been built are real friendships, reinforced by truly good, genuine people, and that positive force is stronger than anything I could have ever realized. I love how you say, “people care and sometimes it’s transferred online…” There is so much truth in this — people do care, people want to care. And having that transfer online is just another way of showing that, not making it any less real. Thanks so much for your comment, Grace, and for your friendship as well.

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