When I woke up this morning and reviewed my schedule, I was happy to see a call with Danielle LaPorte for this afternoon. I’ve been meaning to talk to her forever and we were finally about to jam.
Fast forward a few hours. I get a DM from Danielle letting me know that she needed to reschedule because she and her family were going to be helping out with the Vancouver riot cleanup.
I had no idea what she was talking about, so I did some quick research. Troublemakers disgracing Vancouver again. My heart goes out to the 99.99% of the wonderful citizens of Vancouver.
But my heart doesn’t go out just because of the riot. It goes out because they’ve used Social Media to coordinate a cleanup and community rebuild, as well as bring the rioters to justice.
That’s the story I want people to see right now. Not about the Vancouver riots, but about the Vancouverites using the new tools available to do what communities have always done.
And let’s talk about community via Social Media.
Yes, there’s a lot of selling going on. Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, it’s noisy with people trying to figure out ever snappier ways to say less with even fewer amount of characters. Show me one rapidly growing community that doesn’t have those characteristics.
But, like anything else we’ve created, it has other uses.
We’ve been able to watch and participate with a changing tide of ideology in the Middle East, the waves of which were powered, in part, by social media.
We’re able to call out our representatives and see their true characters – among other things – revealed when they aren’t being managed by their personae-builders.
We’re able to not be fed the news people want us to see and instead learn from the people who are there on the scene. Like Wikipedia, there are errors that arise from the mass amateurization of everything, but there are also voices being heard that would’ve been suppressed, overlooked, or dismissed because they weren’t worth the time of the power majority.
Let’s return to where we started: were it not for Social Media, I probably would have no idea of who Danielle is or vice versa. I would have never met so many of the wonderful people who are my true friends and the members of a community of people that spans the globe.
At a more fundamental level, without Social Media, the way we work, live, and think in the world would be dramatically different. Before we go into some myopic discussion about being better or worse off because of that, let’s at least put all the cards on the table.
The flaws that manifest from any given technology say more about the flaws of the people who design and use them than they do about the technology in question. The flipside of that is also true: the virtues that manifest from any given technology say more about the virtues of the people who design and use them than they do about the technology in question.
We don’t blame the clubs, knives, and torches of rioters for what the rioters do. We understand human agency in the simple cases.
It’s a better story to focus on the negative aspects of human experience – which is why such stories are so pervasive – but it’s not the true and complete story.
The true and complete story about Social Media is that we build the web. And I applaud the Vancouverites for building a better web while gathering to repair, rebuild, and reinforce Vancouver.
My friend Jonathan Fields shared this video of Matisyahu doing a cover of “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. The context, message, and tone are perfect for this discussion, so I’m sharing it with you. You may not be able to use me there, friends, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be of use here.