I´ve been through some really tough times, I´m sure you have too.
There were days when I couldn´t sleep I was so anxious, other days when I woke up crying, when I thought I couldn´t go on, when I had no money, when things were just plain hard as a single mom. During those times, I thought I was alone, that the world had conspired against me.
I thought about visiting a shrink many times. I actually did once, only to find out I had to pay a fortune for someone to listen to me. That did not go so well. So I started searching for people in cyber space with similar problems. People that suffered just like me. It was the dawning of the social media hype, and ironically, I was NOT alone, I just hadn´t realized it until then.
I found amazing tales of inspiration, of courage, of peace. I suddenly realized that I was simply captivated by the incredible stories I read over and over, that I was not the only one in the world with problems, that life DOES go on. Reading about the suffering of others made me come out of my self-pity shell, made me realize that the world doesn´t revolve around me and my problems. That there IS hope!
I started to heed the advice of these unknown heroes. I bought books that talked about forgiveness, about addiction to other people, about setting boundaries, about raising children, about the unconditional love of God. I would read them and discuss them with my virtual comrades. I would get all kind of advice, some very rude, some immensely compassionate. I would take what I needed and I would also give back. I believe this is the true meaning of engagement.
Sometimes, when I talk about social media and participating in the conversation, I always look back on this challenging time in my life, when my community of unknown troopers helped me overcome my most painful moments without expecting anything in return. I trusted the advice of these suffering men and women more than I trusted a shrink. And it was free!
I truly believe that if the world stopped for a second and left the money-making mentality aside, the WIIFM (What´s In It For Me) movement disguised by a free e-book or a special report download in exchange for your email, if only we cared about helping each other and adding real value to each other´s lives, this world would certainly be a better place.
We can use social media to this noble end. We can live the way we were intended to: in a community that aids and helps each other. I know it sounds like a fairy tale, but I only say this because I was there. I saw social media put to good use and I benefitted tremendously from it. I am a better person because of this engagement and I helped others along the way. Not to mention the thousands of dollars I saved in the process.
Yes, we have to make a living. But if we can help others in the process, isn´t that just so much better?