What’s the name of the game?
Does it mean anything to you?
ABBA, “What’s The Name of the Game”
I’ve always had faith in social media and the communities that are built from it because it has always been about making the world a little smaller and bringing people together through shared interests, locations, and values. It was always about the connections for me. It was always about understanding another human being, about not feeling so alone in a world that, in all reality, though my optimistic self likes to ignore this part of it, can be a bit cold and dismal and separated. It was always about finding friends whom I may have otherwise never have known, bridging the distance and allowing for real connections based on who we are, not only what we do.
Only, that landscape has changed.
What was once a virtual front porch, a get-to-know-you coffee shop, that meet-and-greet cocktail party has turned into a playground where there are only so many swings. Numbers rule and competition to be the most/best/first weakens the importance of those solid connections. Your title becomes your defining characteristic and your rating measures your self-worth.
But we are more than a title. And we are more than a number.
The great thing about social media is that it helps you understand the complexity of people — a defining characteristic of what it means to be human. Because of our experiences, memories, likes and dislikes, values and beliefs, we have layers and depth beyond what is ever originally perceived. Social media peels back those layers one at a time, over time. We have compassion and intelligence; we have the ability to debate and share our story, hold fast to our values, conjure strength and provide support. We are able to constantly understand and wonder and question and discover. We have the ability to change and grow and transform our lives in an instant. Tell me, what metric creates a rating for that?
It’s so easy to get caught up in it all, to want to be on that virtual kickball team. But the thing about social media is that kickball is the wrong game. Because in social media, no one is without a team, a place.
A community is what you make of it — it can be strong and positive or overwhelming and unbalanced. And truthfully, lately, I’ve found myself on that latter end of that spectrum, wondering what had so changed. The answer was simple — I had as I scrambled to play catch-up, forgetting what I believed, forgetting what was so important to me and what I valued:
Being able to connect with others on that intimate level, finding people that we can learn from, so that we can grow with, not out of.
Like that landscape, a community can change as well.
Maybe it’s all up to you to figure out what you want yours to look like.