The Spirituality of Social Media

Sure the social web is filled with rants and quacks, but I’ve also been thinking about how the science and technology of this channel lifts people up, and perhaps even makes us better in a deeper, spiritual way.  Here are a couple of personal observations. I would love to hear what you think!

Spiritual touchpoints

I was feeling kind of bitchy this week and wrote a bitchy blog post to go right along with my mood.  It was supposed to run today.  Then I read Danny Brown‘s post on leadership which reminded me that sometimes we need to think bigger about ourselves and the world.  I decided the universe didn’t need another bitchy blog post and that I could do better.  So I trashed it.

I experience these tiny tugs of hope, optimism and encouragement every day.  Little social strings between me and others, pushing, pulling, inspiring me to do better, to think bigger about my social media community and the world.  I am evolving in positive ways because of it.

Have you surrounded yourself with these spiritual touchpoints too?

The communion of community

Recently a woman in my city lost her 18-year-old son in a tragic and violent drug-related death.   Her pain was exacerbated by questions about how police handled the case, which played out in a public forum.

I really don’t know this woman, but I have children too and the agony that came out on her blog posts touched me and probably thousands of others like me. We were a community of strangers united in grief.  We connected through Twitter, through comments, through prayer for her family.

I’ve seen this same kind of communion of strangers after the Haiti earthquake and the Nashville flood.  People used technology for a higher purpose, to commune with the needy, displaced and heart-broken.  This gives me so much hope.

Igniting Passion

I’ve just read the “Brains on Fire” book (recommended – no affiliation other than profound admiration!).

The agency by the same name preaches that the social web is an opportunity to create not just “conversation,” but movements. Watch this short video they created for Love 146. I dare you not be outraged, shocked and moved.

Love 146 works toward the abolition of child sex trafficking and exploitation.  Brains on Fire created a movement by igniting passion through stories, images, even music and art.  This is work that is measurably changing the lives of forgotten children.  This is the social web — and the human spirit — at its best.

Love one another

There are people I have met on the social web who love and care about me.

That is probably the sappiest thing I have ever written but it is undeniable and true so why not say it?  The Internet now allows you to find your folks wherever they may be, to establish your personal movement.

Does this sound weird to you?  I think it can happen for anybody if you give it a chance.  The social web is spreading love from country to country and server to server, to laptops, smart phones, iPads and people. It’s amazing to think about.  More love in more places around the world gotta be a good thing,  right?

A global heartbeat

I am in daily contact with people who inspire me from Sweden, Malaysia, Jordan, France, Australia, Russia and many other nations.  Perhaps you are too.

Pause for a moment and realize that you and I are experiencing a milestone in human history.  A profound and spiritual milestone, I think. For the first time we have access to free, real-time, global communications.   The ability to make these connections were not available to us just a few years ago.

And this is just the beginning. Sure, Facebook is the home to Farmville and about every other inane concept known to man. But don’t dwell there.  This platform alone is providing an opportunity to unite hundreds of millions of people.  Hundreds … of millions … of people. Doesn’t that take your breath away?

Twitter enabled a revolutionary movement in Iran. It failed … this time.  The power of technology to connect, nurture, and teach will eventually out-run the technology that is trying to control and contain it.  We WILL be connected and then there will be one global heartbeat pulsing through the social web.

Look through the silliness, cut through the drivel, ignore the hate.  There is a core light of hope streaming above it all with the potential to unite us, heal us, and inspire us no matter who or where we are.

Approach the social web with authentic helpfulness and good things happen

I don’t make a habit of putting my life on display on the blog but I wanted to pass along some news that I’m excited about — and it’s a social media success story, too!

In a few weeks I will begin a new stint as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, teaching a course for a newly-developed social media marketing track of their MBA program. This is an add-on to the rest of my schedule — I’ll still keep up with my other commitments to teaching, consulting and of course … blogging!

I’m excited by this opportunity because I’ll be connected to some of the brightest students and faculty members in the country and get to test some of my ideas on social media marketing on a whole new level.

I absolutely love teaching so this is a great new challenge!

And like nearly every other business benefit I’ve accrued over the past two years, this one came courtesy of the social web. Of course I wouldn’t be teaching the class in the first place if I weren’t immersed in the channel myself but the actual opportunity came via my dear Twitter friend Christina “CK” Kerley, (@cksays).

I’ve followed CK on the web for more than a year now and she is one of the outstanding B2B marketing minds in the country.  I hang on her every tweet and post.  As luck would have it, she likes me too and soon we were building a friendship by exchanging ideas, phone calls and even a real life meeting in New York City a few months ago.

When she was asked for ideas of possible instructors for the new Rutgers MBA track, she recommended me. After a series of interviews, I was offered the position and in fact, we will both be teaching at this program, which will be a thrill.

The lesson I have learned over and over again is you just never know what will happen through your social media connections.  If you approach your audience with kindness, meaningful content and authentic helpfulness, good things happen.

The most powerful leadership lesson I’ve learned

In graduate school I took a class on “Leaders and Leadership” that I hoped would give me respite from the grind of finance and economics. It turned out to be one of the most interesting classes I ever attended and it set me on life-long study of leaders.

When I worked for Alcoa, there was one Group President who seemed to personify the best theoretical aspects of a leader. His name was George Bergeron, since retired to Maine and Florida, but there is not a week that goes by that I don’t think about a small sign he had on his desk:

“Leaders Dispense Hope.”

George was not a rah-rah kind of leader. He walked his talk without gimmicks, inspirational posters or “programs.” In fact, other than a few family pictures, that sign was the only adornment on his desk at all.

Those powerful three words sum up so much to me. To be in a position to “dispense hope,” you need to

  • Be trusted
  • Have a vision that others understand and believe in
  • Be an effective communicator
  • Rise above the every day office noise to deliver the signal
  • Be recognized as the authority
  • Have a real plan, not rhetoric
  • Transcend politics
  • Deliver authentic optimism

Like any executive in a  competitive environment, George had his detractors. But he rose above it all with dignity at every opportunity. No matter what was happening in the world, in the company, or with our customers, George dispensed hope.  A lesson in leadership for a world that needs a few lessons in leadership.

Case study: Why every company needs a social media policy

If your organization is debating the need for a social media policy, you might want to watch this 90-second news story from a Knoxville-area school district.

The news coverage is about a thread on the TV station’s Facebook page and a published comment regarding the suspension of a high school student. It’s a short case study, but one that brings to light key privacy issues and the implications when everybody becomes a publisher.

Facebook has become a way of life for many people who have become de-sensitized about what what they’re sharing.  If you are representing a company or other institution in a public forum, what you are writing may be permanent, search-able, published material with legal consequences.

To be fair to both employees and employers, every organization should have a social media policy — even if there is no formal company social media initiative, as illustrated by this story!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...