Are you sure you know what matters?

Last night, a friend of mine from 12most, Keith Privette, posted a status update to Facebook. A friend of his essentially posted what appears to be a goodbye note to Facebook, and as of the time of me writing this, this friend still has yet to be found. Keith’s update directed people to his friend’s Facebook page, and as if trained, people started leaving messages for this fellow on that post. The last time I checked there were about 200 comments. All of the comments were filled with love, even though a lot of the people had no idea who this guy is. People shared their own stories of how they have struggled with depression. People reminded the fellow of the special times they had shared together, of his beautiful family, and of promised trips.

It’s still not clear how this story will go.

But it has me thinking about a lot of things.

This social media thing

Not just from a marketing perspective but from a human perspective, I think we’re getting this whole social media thing wrong in a lot of ways. The numbers don’t do a lot for us in the marketing world unless you know how to do them right. Similarly, numbers don’t really mean a whole lot in the human realm. I find joy in the online world because I get to know *people* as well, people. I don’t follow people back because they have x number of followers. In fact, a lot of people who have some 30,000 followers are often the biggest turd-nuggets I find (that’s a professional term). They aren’t engaging. They aren’t doing anything except promoting their own stuff. *yawn*

If you looked at this fellow’s social media stats, I’m sure you would say, as perhaps he himself might say, “Uh, well, he isn’t anyone important. He doesn’t have a lot of followers on Twitter. He doesn’t have a country’s worth of fans on Facebook.” But if you look at the outpouring of love and support he is getting, you’d think he was a social media superstar. And you know what, from what I can tell based on what these folks are saying and how much they care, he IS a superstar. But maybe you’d pass him by because he couldn’t get you to that next level.

What are we missing by not using this opportunity to get to know new people? What are sacrificing in the hopes of getting “bigger numbers?” It boggles my mind.

We’ve lost the capacity to see the value in ourselves

There is an epidemic of depression taking our precious friends and family members from us at an alarming rate, and I want to know why. I know way, way too many people who have tried to take their own lives, some of whom succeeded. I know far too many people who have hurt themselves. Have you thought about doing those things? Have you tried to do those things?

I know that our brains get fuzzy when our hearts muddy the waters, but maybe it is worthwhile, once a day, to think about all of the people who LOVE you, not just the people you’re grateful for. Who is that person that has called you once a week or once a month for the last 27 years? Who is that person you can talk to once a year and still have it feel like the old days? How much have you impacted the people around you? If this fellow could see how many people appreciated his smile, how many people care about him, and how many people are willing to rally around him in his time of need, I bet he’d be stunned. But maybe he doesn’t have time to think about all of that good stuff. Maybe none of us take the time to think about who we’re important to. Maybe it sounds egotistical, but I don’t think it is. Let Clarence help you out if you get stuck.

Waiting till it’s too late to say we care

Why do we have to wait until someone posts a goodbye message to say, “I love your smile”? Why does it always take a tragedy for us to say, with a strokey-beard pose, “Oh yes, we must appreciate those we love”? I know. Living with your heart on your sleeve is a scary proposition. It’s right there when you shake hands. It can get squished really easily. People can poke it with sharp objects and hurt you to your core. It’s risky.

As is walking out your door.

When was the last time you left a message for someone you care about saying something nice when it wasn’t their birthday or a holiday? When was the last time you ensured that that guy over there knows *exactly* how much you appreciate him? When was the last time you told that woman that you are so proud of everything she is doing?

Sure, you might sound corny. Sure, the person might back-pedal five steps away from you because being nice has become taboo, it seems. But do it anyway. Do you really want all of those feelings to come down to a comment on a scary Facebook post?

I don’t want to risk that. I don’t risk that. There are no guarantees. And telling someone their new avatar is lovely is so much more important than giving someone +K about lion cubs. It really is.

It’s time to weigh what matters. It’s time to remember that people are still people, even if they are 2D smiling avatars on a little screen. These people you talk to, they have their ups and downs, and you have a chance, a real chance, to reach out to all of these people.

Isn’t that what matters?

Seems so to me.

Carpe Diem

Carpe that hand. Reach out when someone says they’re feeling down. Jump for joy when someone finds success. Online and offline. Do it. Don’t save it for that moment when your heart is in your stomach wondering if you missed your chance.

Mind what matters. What REALLY matters.

OK?

image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29553188@N07/3573969837/ via Creative Commons

 

27 comments
DalaiLina
DalaiLina

That is nice, Margie. I wish everyone used Social Media like that! (then I may get a little less porn-type direct tweets. What's up with that? Although maybe they are sending love in a different way...)

LeslynK
LeslynK

Margie, you mentioned that "even though a lot of the people had no idea who this guy is" and yet they left him messages on FB. Sometimes, it's appreciation and acknowledgement from random strangers that matter the most to individuals who are depressed. Sometimes, depression invalidates attention from those closest to us and people need to see that they matter to a larger portion of the world. The cashier at the grocery store, the waitress at the deli, the cab driver, the ticket agent, etc... the people we might not say "I love you" to but people we encounter fractionally. Expressed appreciation such as 'you made a difference in my day" or something a trifle more substantial than a 'thanks' can mean the difference between life and living. I am relatively new to Twitter and of course one of the reasons I am using it is to market and to do so, I want numbers but the people that are willing to engage - well... they all make a difference in the way that I experience the time I spend there. Comments and engagement, return tweets, etc... they help me understand that there are people on the other end of the void. - Just a few cents worth of my thoughts! : )

Martina McGowan
Martina McGowan

"Turd-nuggets" Ilike it! I will have to add that to my repetoire. :)

You are of course correct Margie. The numbers drive the ego, and it is an easy trap to fall into, especially when you first arrive. Somewhere along the way we have lost the point of social interaction.

I have met some wonderful people on line. People who know if I haven't been on in a couple of days, people I know who care what little may be on my mind, and people who tell me I matter. This is also what I try to give back to them. I don't really want a bunch of people who want to play "twitter tag" all day long. I want to to interact with people who have something important to say about what's going on with them; even if I have to use my broken Spanish and Portuguese, or pull out my translator for Italian or Dutch.

I like feeling that warm smile in their words when you say something they don't expect that you'll remember, like how's you new wife, how's that NY resolution hanging? Or, saw you up late last night, u ok?

I don't even think it really is about wearing your heart on your sleeve. I think it is about being a real live human being. I think it is about caring whether you touch the lives of others. Or are they just another # and another nuisance for you?

Like everything else, we get to choose.

And yeah it may sound corny, but we MUST tell each other that we are important. that we matter.

@martinamcgowan

uglyshirt
uglyshirt

Wonderful, lovely, fantastic post. As I read your post I was reminded of a quote by Fred Rogers. He said, "If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person." Too often we forget how connected we are and wait until it's too late to tell people how much they mean to us.

ifdyperez
ifdyperez

I love this @margieclayman . I think there's too much negativity/self-centeredness online and I think it's because it's easy to be negative/self-centered than positive and loving for others. And although sometimes we're too busy to keep up with everyone, we should at least be giving whoever's immediately around us our love and compassion. Thanks for this post! Will be sharing!

MZazeela
MZazeela

Margie,

Fabulous! What more is there to say?

When we take things for granted is often when they are taken from us. Only then, do we realize the true value that we had and have now lost.

Treat every day as special. Treat every person as special. They deserve it and so do you.

Cheers,Marc

susanborst
susanborst

Another beautiful post by the lovely Margie Clayman. Random acts of kindness are always appreciated. I love that my kid's school system promotes this concept - honoring kids who have exhibited kind behaviors and even devoting a whole day to helping kids understand what it means and why it's important. I've read too many stories about people reaching out on social media, sending signals that something is seriously 'wrong.' If your intuition tells you that what you read in a post is alarming, trust your instinct and act on it. The simple act of reaching out with a kind word or expression of caring could make an important difference...even if you don't know the person well. Thanks again, Margie~~

judiknight
judiknight

Margie, great reminder. I too am blown away by the friendships I have made online and then some actually in real life, from my Internet connections. One of my dogs died in early December and I wrote about this and how i was struggling to feel the feelings but not let it intefere with my committments. I got over 400 e-mails back in support. It was amazing to feel that degree of connection from my peeps.

I like what you suggest, that we take the time to share eith those we care about just because. I going to reach out to some of my favorite people today.

SteveWoodruff
SteveWoodruff

Marjorie,

I was so happy to wake up this morning and hear that Todd has been found safe. I appreciate your sensitivity to the tragedy of depression, and the havoc it can wreak.

I know you have read my posts about it after Trey P's untimely death - here is a short link to the free e-book I wrote (Clearing Clouds) to try to raise awareness: http://bit.ly/ShunDepression

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

I often say that we "repair the world" one person at a time. The little gesture, thought, gift, call, whatever can make such a difference. I hope this guy turns up. Sounds dire. I hope others reach out to their friends/colleagues when they "smell" something amiss. I had to do it once for one of my sons - was scary - but the crises passed and he's fine. I was there. What if I hadn't been? Let's be there for each other. Heck, for that matter, my wife - not then my wife - was there for me at a serious crossroads and helped me through it. You give; you get. That's the cycle of life. You never know from whom or where it will come or be needed!

OReillyKimberly
OReillyKimberly

As a social worker, health educator, and more importantly a human - I LOVED this post. I am sad for the young person who is missing in action and only hope that story ends happier than the situation looks at first glance. Human connectedness is a vital part of social, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness. I'm very active on my personal social networks and enjoy my friends who are as well. Busy lives keep us apart, but being able to keep up with each other and reach out during good and bad times online, only enriches our too infrequent face to face visits.

janetcallaway
janetcallaway

Well said, Margie. Two things i appreciate about you are your zaniness and the way you care about people.

JohnFeskorn
JohnFeskorn

Recently, I was going through a tough time and a friend posted this on my FB wall "...you are a shining and gold star in my day-to-day life. Hang in there..." Those few words really helped my spirits. Reach out, it works!!

TheJackB
TheJackB

I am not convinced that people are any more depressed now than they have ever been. Perhaps I am wrong, I don't have any "studies' to refer to. What I am certain of is that we hear about things faster than we ever have and it makes me wonder if things have always been this way but we just weren't aware of it.

That being said it is very easy to get caught up in a world where you don't have to leave your computer to do your work it is easy to feel like you are trapped in a lonely bubble.

Overall I can't agree more strongly with you about the need to reach out and connect on a personal level with others. It certainly can't hurt.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@Martina McGowan I try to choose the *most* professional phrases and words for my blog posts, Martina :)

Yes, the tiniest comment or nudge can sometimes make all the difference in the world. You just never know, do you? So why not risk it? It's not like saying something nice online requires a lot of strenuous work or even a lot of time. You do it. It's done. Or so it seems to me.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@uglyshirt Great quote, Robin. Thanks for adding that. Boy, that Fred Rogers. He knew about people, didn't he? :)

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@ifdyperez Thanks for that! It is easy to be negative, and negativity sadly gets a lot of attention in the online world. If you're nice, it's easy for people to think they can walk all over you. I prefer to be nice and lay the smack down on anyone who tries to run me over :)

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@susanborst In looking at the Todd Tweedy story, one cannot doubt but that reaching out helps. There is another side to that though. Often times when we do lose someone to depression, as we did with Trey and Bruce last year, we think, "Oh my. What *didn't* I say that could have saved their lives?" That's not really a fair thing to do to yourself. Ultimately, if a person desires to live, he or she must find the strength from within to walk back from that cliff's edge. When you are that depressed and that lost, the kindest word may not reach you because you simply can't hear it. So yes, it's important that we reach out and it's important that we try to make a difference, but we can't look at a person losing that battle as a failure on our part. Many times, that is just trying to make sense of the unthinkable.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@judiknight Sorry to hear that, Judi.

The online world is a crazy place. There are a lot of negatives, but I am still of the belief that the positives outweigh the yucky stuff.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@SteveWoodruff Thanks Steve. I still think that piece you put together is amazing and is a standing symbol of your immense generosity. Thanks for reminding us of it here :)

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@BruceSallan He was found, amazingly enough, and is now being cared for. How amazing is that? And it's awfully tempting to think that all of the people looking out for him may have helped this story have a happy ending.

But like I said to Susan above, we have to be careful with this line of thinking. A lot of people were there for Trey Pennington and he still was not able to win his battle. That should not make his friends feel like they failed him. It just means he was not able to open his heart to what remained good in his world. And that happens to some people, and it's impossible for us to wrap our heads around.

I am glad you were able to help your son, and I am glad you had people for you in your time of need, as have I. It is a great gift that we do not appreciate enough, I think.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@OReillyKimberly Thanks Kimberly. The story does have a happy ending. The man was found and is recovering. Hopefully his path to recovery will be eased by seeing all of the people who rallied for him. I really hope so. But for now, he has a chance, and that is something to feel immensely thankful for.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@TheJackB You could be right, Jack. It might be that we're just hearing about it more and faster. But in my online community, the number of people dealing with or having dealt with depression issues just seems stunning to me.

Maybe I'm naive?

TheJackB
TheJackB

@margieclayman I don't know that I would say your naive but I would say that you are caring and concerned. The most important message in this post isn't tied into numbers, at least not as I see it.

I know five people who committed suicide and can say unequivocally that "saving" any one of them would have been like saving an entire universe.So I think that your message is exceptionally important

I am just one of those people who questions numbers.

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  2. [...] has a “happy” ending in that Todd Tweedy was found alive and is receiving medical treatment. Margie Clayman wrote a terrific post on it before the outcome was [...]

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