I grew up in the Star Wars generation. I remember the excitement, at 8 years old, of waiting in a line that wrapped all the way around the movie theater to get tickets to see Return of the Jedi. Those were the days before online movie ticket sales, still the golden age of cinema, when a theater premiere was a big event.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve often contemplated the concept of good and evil, light and dark. Star Wars had it right, there is darkness and light in all of us. We just have to work to allow the light to shine brightest. I feel that way about social media. I’m not a big social media guy. My friends and family often mention how I rarely post pictures on Facebook. However, as a global debate is currently raging about the dark side and power of big-tech and social media giants, I have been struck recently by the tremendous amount of light social media can bring.
Here are a few examples from my life:
1) Facebook Buy Nothing Group
My wife and I have been on a big decluttering kick the last few years. Time and too many Target runs have left us buried in stuff. A friend encouraged us to join the local Facebook Buy Nothing group, where you can post items you no longer need to give away to neighbors in your local community. It’s very fulfilling to find a home for items that might otherwise be discarded. It’s also nice to connect with neighbors you haven’t previously met. This could be accomplished without social media, but social media gives it a reach and simplicity that is powerful.
2) TikTok – Seven Lads Irish Dancing
Seven young men in Ireland starting posting fun, clever Irish Dance videos on TikTok and have become a global sensation. The group is called Cairde. As I am writing this they currently have 2.5 million followers on TikTok. Their short video posts have led to gigs on Good Morning America and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the opportunities keep coming. This would never have been possible without social media.
LinkedIn is my favorite social media site because it connects working professionals in so many tremendous ways. I find it to be the best way to stay in touch with previous colleagues and to learn from people who share the same professional interests. Of course, it is also a great place to search for talent.
4) Social Media in College Athletics
In my role as Director of Customer Success at ARI Recruiting, I have seen the multitude of ways social media is deployed in college athletics. Social media empowers coaches, athletics directors and sports information directors to easily publish content that allows them to connect with fans, parents, alumni and other audiences like never before. Also, coaches using ARI’s software can track the social media accounts of their recruits.
Social media, like all things, is not inherently good or evil, dark or light. I am encouraged by the good ways it can be used to connect, share and build community. Like in Star Wars, the light will have to keep battling the dark, but the force is strong within us and the light can prevail.