Monday, 13 March 2017

Weapons Of War: Engagement | Social Media Talk

Engagement is a weapon. In life. Online. Offline. How you engage with humanity at large, says a lot about you as a person. 

When you talk to people, do you look them in the eye, or do you look at their shoulders, lips (egad), or someone behind them? Are you present, or are you somewhere else, thinking about that coffee date that you just can't wait to attend? 

To the degree you are engaged, you are expressing your value to a person, or lack thereof. Think those rules of engagement and presentness only apply to in-person interactions? Well, they apply to a good deal more than running into someone at a grocery store or during a highly coveted job interview or first date. 
Manners matter on social media. 
They matter a good deal more than people think they do- I wouldn't be writing this blog post if the concept was common knowledge. 

Interaction & "Ghost Followers" 
Over the last decade, I've seen social media go from being a fledgeling little project that a few people participated in (mostly the geek squad), into it becoming the "big thing" of the century that is as essential as a flushing toilet, leastways round these parts.
Over this time, the biggest trend I've witnessed is followers/friends etc. becoming increasingly silent, apathetic, & less engaged. 
It is a rather indicative sign of where our young culture is right now...non-commital, flighty, not engaged in much other than political debates, trash talking and seeing everyone's posts, and not doing anything about it. 

Well, that's a heaping pile of unhealthy behaviour. We need to cut this crap and commit ourselves to healthier ways of participating in life. 

When I follow someone on social media... it is because I want to participate...somehow, in their life. Unless of course this is a celebrity with tens of thousands, or millions of followers- I followed them because I appreciate the content they produce, and I dang well want to interact with them. I don't just mean watching EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEIR STORIES and never replying to them, or liking every single photo and never commenting. That is not meaningful interaction. It's passive existence. 
When I follow someone, I am committing to, somehow, blessing and supporting that individual, through meaningful, intentional and heartfelt interaction on things they post. Not merely throwing out a "sick" or "rad" or "sweet"or "love" or a blue heart emoji. That is not intentional, it's irritating, because it is as cookie cutter as someone throwing a flyer on your doorstep, not actually complimenting you on your yard or house, they're really just asking you to come and check out their life. 

If I get to a point on social media where I find myself scrolling through my feed, without really feeling like I want to engage, then I unfollow said account. People can change, and paths do in fact, diverge. That's okay. 
Similarly, I would rather someone unfollow me and no longer see my content, than sit in the shadows, see EVERYTHING and pretend they saw NOTHING. That is entirely creepy, and passive as all get out, and it drives me nuts. 
I know I can't do everything well, so at the beginning of the year, I decided I'd pair down who I was following on social media, so that I'd be able to better interact and put into the people who I am following. Because, the way I see it, it's better to do a handful of things well, then to do everything poorly. 

There are people behind these social media accounts. I can't tell you how much a heartfelt, intentional comment or message can mean to someone. Please don't assume they don't care who does or doesn't interact, because "It's just social media- it doesn't mean anything". Tell that to the people who have met their spouses on social media, or their best friend, or a job they loved, or they decided life was actually worth living, because of an interaction with someone who showed them value. 
Engagement is a weapon, I cannot stress enough, what a weapon it is...and we as young people need to stand up and see it for what it is. A weapon. It's dangerous and wonderful and POWERFUL, and it truly has the ability to cripple a culture or change the world with its brilliant zest and vibrancy. 
If you have your pick of fabulous friends, grandparents, cousins, community at large and amazing colleagues, you probably haven't felt the deep void of interaction as keenly as those without supportive networks and extended families. But engagement matters more than we know, and it's about more than just a green heart on someone's latest IG post because they said they were getting rid of their ghost followers. It's a lifestyle. 
It's time that we as a culture, value engaging in the lives of those around us, whether that be in face-to-face interactions, or on social media. 
Being passive seems harmless enough, until you're on the receiving end of it and you're made to feel about as valuable as Tuesday's trash. 
Engage. Be present. Show value. 
You aren't following a robot, you're following a person- flesh and blood. Heart and soul. 
Break the chain of passive existence & chose to invest in the people around you. It will have a ripple effect, changing the lives of people you'll never even meet- but your behavior will bless their socks right cool is that?