- Original picture from Addixon777 + home made transformation -
The amazing thing about "social media" is the power that these two words joined together took over the meaning of each word when standing alone.
"Social" is the grouping of individuals around common characteristics, interactions between groups of people, is taking consideration of other's behavior. Many more definitions apply to that word, but in a way the "united humans" side of the definition is probably the one we keep in mind. And here comes "media" basically related to communication and being the vehicle of messages towards as many people as possible, not to say "masses".
Now "social media" pushes us from being readers and spectators of news and information, to being actors and publishers of messages through a completely new vehicle. And we may see "the wisdom of the crowds" as the evolution of individual messages freely embraced by other individuals.
The very first time I understood the power of "social media" was after Noel Davis' terrible bicycle accident just before Christmas 2007. Noel is the father in law of Gavin Heaton, a blogger friend I had met on the net months before. At the time, I didn't know Noel but I was warned by another friend blogger CK that "something terrible" happened. Gavin communicated to friends and family on Noel's web page and a solidarity chain was raised by other bloggers relaying the information and collecting funds to help. Cam Beck created a special page to make donations, David Armano made a visual for the cause, many helped making posts to spread the information. Hopefully, Noel recovered from his accident and I'm quite sure many people still think about him today.
Then, another terrible event tore many of us apart when our friend CK was facing the toughest moment of her life. This difficult moment, brought to our eyes the important fact that there is a link between this virtual world, our emotions, values, good intentions and reality.
More recently, Susan Reynolds a blogger I don't know personally, discovered that she had breast cancer. As a matter of fact, Susan suffered so much from the multiple biopsies she went through that she placed a pack of frozen peas on her breast to relieve the pain. She decided to share her experience with others and launched a special blog : Boobs on Ice. When she posted a picture of her and the pack of peas in such an unexpected place, some of her friends were touched and reacted. In less time than it takes to actually say it many people took action (see the full story on Connie Reece's blog) and a solidarity wave rolled around the planet.
Then a special Frozen Pea Fund was launched to raise money with all benefits going to Making Strides, the breast cancer campaign of the American Cancer Society. Now what if we would all donate the price of a package of Peas to such a fund raising program? Hundreds of Twitter users changed their avatars on a Pea theme. When I see the specially created Frozen Pea Flickr group, I really beleive that there are PEAple out there ready to help change the world.
Today is the THIRD PEA FRIDAY... so if you have not done it yet, go to this link and donate the value of a few peas (or more), because this action is good and is helping an important cause we should all care about. I am sure Susan was happy to see that many were there to encourage her and try to help. Also, I'd like to honor people who lead others in the right direction, to help those in need. Connie, this one is for you -sorry it took me so long to make this post-. Even if we have not met yet, please know that it is a real honor to know you. I am amazed by the mountains you are moving.
I understand that social media is not done shaking positively my vision of this world. These incredible examples raise the definitions to another level. So, whoever still thinks "social media" is yet another trendy notion to debate on, might want to consider this : next time you are watching PEAple from a distance, watch closely and listen... maybe you'll find out that the voice behind each one of them is worth some of your attention. Above definitions, there are people behind all this, connected and sharing experiences. Internet is just a vehicle, let's keep in mind that human beings are on both sides with their hearts and values.