...When I say I "really enjoyed it," that's not just my glib way of saying, "check out this interview I did." Gideon prodded me to reflect on the larger cultural significance of the work I do via Good Things Consulting; it felt egotistical at times (who am I to reflect on my own significance?), but it also really buoyed me, reminding me of the potential we have to shift our culture by telling stories about things and people that are good.
We all have the power within us to tell these stories... to use our platforms, however big or small, online and off, to spread messages about good people doing good work. It's common these days to complain about the mainstream media; but what can you do, as an individual, to counter that media? To diversify it? To add new voices and perspectives and information to the mix?
The answer is: You can do a lot. You can be the change you wish to see in the world, through what you share, and how you share it.
Here are a few specific ideas:
- Instead of Attacking or Preaching...Discuss - As election coverage intensifies, resist the urge to simply like or share vitriolic political headlines, acts that fuel anger and divisiveness. Instead, take the time to really articulate why a particular issue matters to you, what you think, and why. If you don't think your Facebook friends will be able to have a civil political discussion, consider starting an email list where open-minded friends of all political persuasions can talk about the election and related issues. You can either perpetuate the noise, or help create the kind of constructive dialogue that is essential to our democracy. Sorry to lay it on so thick, but... I think it's important that we realize, change starts with us, and we live in an age where everyone is a media maker. So make media that matters.
- Talk About Nonprofits Doing Good Work - Make a point of sharing information on social media about nonprofits whose work you consider important. But don't just post a link; tell people why you admire the work this organization does and why you feel it's worth their attention, involvement, or donations. Challenge yourself to write these updates in ways that really resonate for your friends/followers. Just as news media create an agenda through what they choose to cover, and not cover... as a media maker, you wield similar power. Sure, you don't reach as many people as the New York Times, but your influence over friends and family may actually be stronger than that of professional media organizations; to some people, your opinion matters more than any other.
- Share Beauty - If the above ideas are too heavy for you, why not simply commit to sharing beautiful things? My friend Sara writes Facebook posts that power me through the work day, they're so full of love -- beautiful quotes paired with imagery, song... frankly, they're works of art. But you needn't aspire to so high a bar. My friend Cathy posts periodic "moments of Zen," stunningly beautiful nature photos that force me to pause and put everything I'm dealing with in perspective. Both Sara and Cathy are using media for good -- mindfully sharing things that affect the fabric of their followers' lives. You can do the same.
Spread the good -- it's as simple as that. Imagine what the world might feel like, if everyone committed to "being the change" in this way?
How else can we "spread the good" online?
- On Internet Hatred: Inquire Within by Amanda Palmer, which inspired...
- We Get The Net - and the Society - We Build by Jeff Jarvis, which inspired..
- Bullying and Building a Better Web by Josh Stearns
(Thanks to Josh for telling me about all of these posts after reading a version of this article that I wrote on LinkedIn.)