Can we use social media for the good?

By Reba Hull Campbell

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a rather long Facebook post spotlighting a couple dozen friends’ positive posts on social media. These friends shared, in a wide variety of ways, how they are coping during the virus crisis.

In this post, I encouraged my Facebook “lurker” friends to come out of the social media shadows and share how they are doing. This request was the result of an idle scroll through FB one afternoon noticing, much to my surprise, I have more than 1,900 FB friends – the vast majority of whom are lurkers or people who never post.

While I certainly respect everyone’s own social media habits, I just wanted to remind people that, for good or bad, social media can be a positive source of connection and encouragement as we make our way through this new world order. I reminded them that people care about how they are doing, how they are teaching their children or how they are maintaining their sanity during this time.

I was so excited to hear from so many people – both through social media and offline – who shared their challenges, stories and concerns. In the days since, I’ve tried to share some collections of social media posts that I’ve found uplifting, inspirational, engaging or just plan fun.

These have ranged from a spot-on pandemic parody of The Sound of Music’s “Do-Ra-Mi” and  a periodic kitchen concert from one of my favorite singers, Mary Chapin Carpenter, to a virtual weekly Sip N Strum gathering of my much-loved uke group and elegant menu postings from Drip Coffee’s newly revamped coffee shop operation.

But before I hit send on that first post, I got my own social media house in order. I blocked the people or sites that were spreading inaccurate or inflammatory information. I carefully selected several legit news sources to keep as my primary sources of news (not just those I agree with, but those that I do know to be accurate). I eliminated lots of extraneous companies that sell things that seem so irrelevant now.

I’ve since shared collections of posts that focus on music, grace, food, compassion, silver place settings, collective community outreach, grief, family, neighbors, dogs, anxiety and love. (Past posts are archived on my blog at Random Connect Points.)

Today’s post focuses on emotions. Over the past couple of days, I’ve found reassurance and a sense of community from several experts on the topics of fear and grief – two emotions I’ve had a hard time reconciling as part of the events going on around us. If you’re looking for some insight and encouragement around these topics right now, these folks below offer up some good advice.

I live in the shadow of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, and while I am not a member, I have long drawn peace from its physical presence. The predictability of the church bells has been especially comforting these past few weeks. Last week, the church’s FB page hosted a lesson about grief and how it affects us. Nancy Smith – a mental health counselor, wife of Eastminster’s pastor and a long-time family friend – led the session. Her interactive session lifted my spirits with encouragement to write a little, read a Bible passage and ended with a guided mediation. Beautifully done!

Two women in Columbia I immensely respect in the mental health field are Rhea Merck and Amy Montanez. Their blog – Life is Messy, Life is Marvelous – is back with several new posts specific to our current circumstances. I gained some calming insight from their discussions about change, uncertainty, failure and hope.

Cathy Rigg Monetti, a recently acquired neighbor, successful business owner and beautiful writer, has a regular blog series called The Daily Grace. Her most recent post hit my inbox at just the moment I needed it. She gives some very concrete suggestions in a checklist format (something my disorganized mind craves) of very everyday things to do every day. My goal is to hit three each day. Just three for now.

In the wider world, I caught up with two of my favorite writers/thought gurus/insprirers/disrupters newest posts this week that left me feeling a little calmer and able to see things more clearly.

I caught Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love and The Big Magic fame) TED talk podcast then stumbled upon her beautiful post focusing on a lesson she learned about how living isn’t about your physical circumstances or the space you occupy – rather how you live is in your heart and where you live is in your mind. No physical circumstances can change that.

And finally, one of my all-time favorite writers, Brene Brown, recently launched a new podcast called Unlocking Us. It was in the works to launch before the virus crisis hit, but the episodes that have run over the past couple of weeks are right on topic in helping us cull through the deep emotions of today’s world.

All of these posts are archived on my Random Connect Points blog. I invite you to subscribe (just email me at [email protected]) or follow @randomconnectpoints on FB, IG and Twitter to get notified of new posts.

 

After more than 35 years working in communications, politics, management, fundraising and government relations, Reba is staying busy in her “retirement” teaching a class in the UofSC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and doing some freelance writing. Reba is passionate about travel, writing, learning to play the uke and keyboard, and staying connected with old friends. Reba can be reached at [email protected], @rebahcampbell on Instagram and Twitter