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