Community

What’s The Name of the Game?

What’s the name of the game?
Does it mean anything to you?

ABBA, “What’s The Name of the Game”

emptyswingsbytlwphotography

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.

6 thoughts on “What’s The Name of the Game?”

  1. Funny, I just uploaded a video on this topic!

    Social media can be a bit disappointing when you’re hit by the sheer amount of spammers and scammers and people just trying to get ahead. But I can track a lot of the important relationships in my life back to Twitter & Facebook … and even MySpace in its early days.

    Heck, I wouldn’t know you if it wasn’t for Twitter! And it was Twitter that let me know you had a new blog post about it. So that’s pretty cool. As for the other stuff, I just use the “block” button judiciously and try not to forget that the value social media provides ISN’T always reflected in web analytics.

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  3. Kelly: I love this comment but it’s so true, and people have been reminding me of the same truth every day. It’s being able to meet people like you — who live in my own community, no less! — that I wouldn’t have otherwise met that makes me so grateful for this form of connecting. Honestly, there is a lot about social media about which I’m cynical, and this post was highlighting the negative things I’ve seen happening around twitter and the blogosphere and that I personally have been experiencing. Because of that, I still hold what I say to be true — for me, at least.

    But you’re right in that there really are so many more positives, and those positives are what make it worth it. I want to take your idea of liberally using the block button and applying it. While it can be overwhelming at times, the best part about forming communities may be just that — we’re in control of them.

    Also: I absolutely loved your video! You did a great job and I want to encourage everyone to take a look!

  4. Dani: I hope it hasn’t changed your mind on social media! It’s definitely overall a very positive experience, only I’ve become a bit jaded as some of it has seemed tainted. Here’s hoping that swings back around — I’m still, and always will be, grateful for the community. And when I take a hard look at it, the positives outweigh the negatives. Thanks for the comment!

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