For years, going to college was the go-to method for not only increasing our knowledge and skills, but for experiencing people and cultures different from our own. It was this perfect medium to start teaching young adults what it's like to be independent and make informed decisions for themselves, to begin working and interacting with complete strangers, and to live and experience something different than they had every day for the past 18-19 years of their lives.
For so long, if you didn't move off to college you often stayed in the same town you were born and raised in and didn't have an opportunity to experience cultures, opinions, religions, and people outside of your community bubble.
With the rise of technology, the internet, and social media specifically - that's no longer the case. We have access to any possible subject at our fingertips. A quick google search or log-in to Facebook or Instagram gives us access to people, cultures, and issues across the world. Or, a quick tap gives us the ability to block those that challenge our beliefs or ideas, to share true and false information, and so much more.
Social media can be a toxic place. It can be a place filled with angry, mean, hateful, unkind people, creepy targeted ads, fake news, and things that drag us down.
Or, it can be a giant time-suck of cat videos, crockpot recipes, giggly jiggly babies, and engagement announcements.
It can be a powerful, inspiring place full of people and communities designed to ROCK the world. It all depends on how we use it and how we choose to let it influence our lives.
I first saw the power of online communities when I joined my first reader group for one of my favorite authors. I hadn’t joined a Facebook group before and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had absolutely no idea that groups existed for the sole purpose of lifting up authors and celebrating books. HOLY COW! It was like my own little slice of heaven right there on social media. Next thing I know, I’m apart of another group - and another - and another. I’m currently a part of 31 different groups and 19 of those are book related. And the majority of those authors are self-published or indy authors I might not EVER have heard of it wasn’t for social media.
But it’s not just books. I’ve seen people harness the power of social media communities to launch and run their own business, raise money for causes they love, support each other, increase awareness of community issues, build friendships, get help, and in so many other positive ways.
When you create such a safe place that people are willing to share pieces of themselves they can’t share anywhere else, you’ve truly created something special.
And I say “you” because it is YOU. You - what you post, share, comment, like, love, and interact with - are what shapes the online community. You have the power to create that safe, welcoming, happy place. Or, you have the power to be a part of the dark, angry, negativity.
It all starts with intention.
If your social media is an unhappy place that adds no value to your life, that’s on you! Change that shit! If you’re looking to fluff your feed and belong to a happy place, join us! We’d love to have you.
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