Every now and then it becomes necessary to take a break from social media and the constant beating of the proverbial drum for war, enlightenment, evolution, devolution and all of the many other things that people like to discuss in virtual spaces (seemingly so they don’t have to do anything about the reality of this plane of existence). But we are inevitably drawn back where we become forced to deal with the reoccurring new age question: Is social media a viable tool for creating change, and if it is, is it being properly utilized to create said change?
When the UINP looked at social media (Facebook in particular) what we found was a hodgepodge of superficial relationships propagated by artificial constructs designed to give the appearance of a person of better quality (insight, information, education, employment, achievement) than was actually behind the pictures, memes, and status updates being posted. We found digital representatives conversing with each other and attempting to build with one another without ever really gaining a deeper understanding of who exactly they were dealing with or what their views were on several subjects vitally important to their mission. In the cases where these relationships are strained which they almost always are, they fell apart quicker than the house of cards during a strong summer breeze. This seems to adequately describe most of the relationships we viewed and really got us wondering if it was possible to create real world change in a virtual space filled with people who are only there to escape the real world.
As we continued to look at various building attempts fall apart shortly after being started because of a lack of proper communication, dedication, and understanding, we began to feel like social media while a powerful tool for communication and organization if utilized properly, was simply overfilled with entertainment of various kinds on various levels to be used as an efficient means of gathering like minded similarly dedicated people. Could these people be found on social media, of course after all we found each other. But it took us over 3 years to find a handful of people on social media to start a real world movement while actively looking. Surely this isn’t the most efficient of processes. But rather than telling people to go to a new venue which has been tried, or getting people to look deeper into the profiles of their co-builders which is completely useless, I would say the much needed wave is to dig deeper via a more meaningful connection.
Everything is about relationships, and organizing a revolution is no different. Rather than cutting off that friend in the pro-black group that talks a good game but has all white friends and never post anything racial on their personal Facebook page (we all know at least one that for some reason is tolerated more then they should be) figure out which one is the fake persona and how that person can be utilized by developing a real relationship with them (if you can stomach it). Even if you do find them to be worthless to your current issue, that doesn’t mean they will be worthless to all future issues and your having a real relationship with them means that they will be there if and when you need them without any negative thoughts on you. If you haven’t noticed I’m not talking about using Facebook to link with people, I’m talking about using social media to CONNECT with people. With that I have a list of 3 things I think you should do when you meet people that you think you want to build with.
- Pick up a phone and talk – I’m not talking about talk about how your going to build, I’m talking about talking about who you are. Get to know them, likes and dislikes, religious beliefs, family, occupation, interest, and what drew them to the struggle in the first place. Trust me, its all important. If you don’t like someone, or hold core beliefs that are too different on key issues then things aren’t going to work out, better you find out now and build a friendship that could prove useful in another venue or end it right at the start then waste weeks or months on a project doomed to failure by personality clashes or personal beliefs. I know everyone is going to say the struggle should be bigger, and yes it should be, but to ignore the individual components of an organization is to doom the organization before it starts. If you take stomach cells and put them in the brain, either the stomach cells will die or the brain will, figure out if your dealing with a muscle or a nerve.
- Talk regularly – One phone call isn’t going to do it, and 2 calls 3 months apart isn’t much better. You are building a relationship with these people, or finding out if they are worth a relationship in the first place. Even if you aren’t talking on the phone regularly, text is another option. Anything away from the representative they have on social media. At UINP we have a regular call every week and we talk daily in between. People that aren’t worth the relationship for whatever reason need to be put down. No need to be rude or disrespectful about it, but no need to drag it out either. Put them down and move on, life is too short and there is too much to do. Just make sure the reasons are valid and real, not make believe or on some he said she said stuff. Unless of course your putting the person down for being messy.
- When they show you who they are believe them – Everyone now and then people will act out of character, but if you are noticing reoccurring trends don’t make or accept excuses believe things to be exactly what you are seeing. In a lot of cases people don’t even realize they have negative character traits, even if they have been told they still don’t believe they have them because the hardest thing for the ego to accept is something bad about itself. In these cases when you notice the same yellow flag multiple times from multiple angles, accept that as a part of who that person is. Far to often we will be shown on multiple occasions the truth about a person or situation only to continuously look past it and then to be burned by it in the long run. Its a commonly said cliche that isn’t actually followed very much, but believe what people show you not what they tell you. This doesn’t mean you cut a person off at the instant you see something bad because people do act out of character sometimes, but it does mean that you make a note of everything and when you see a disturbing trend you accept it and move accordingly.
This list is actually a small portion of a list of 20. But they are good starting points that I believe will save us all time, energy, and emotions. In a world of practical problems we need to be efficiently and effectively finding people and solutions. While this approach may take a bit of time, the quality of the people in your inner circle will be upgraded exponentially along with the amount and quality of the work you accomplish. No one can do it alone, we are not islands that operate in isolation, but every bridge isn’t a good bridge and you don’t want to be trying to cross only to have it go out.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.