Sometimes the conversations in my social feeds greatly depress me — which is my own damn fault.
I’ve built a network chock full of marketers, small business owners and social media thought leaders. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that my feed each day is full of shilling, self-promotion and endless retweets of the same seven blog posts.
And yet, every day I log in and come back for more.
Because, in addition to all of the characters described above, my social networks are also teeming with loads of people who are just plain…interesting. Each one, I vetted personally, with this philosophy in mind: “I have no idea why you want to be connected to me, but if that’s the case, cool…I’ll connect to you, too.”
That decision has been a gift to me that never ceases giving.
Yes, my social network is unwieldy, often trite, and far too loud.
But, because of its diversity, at least once a day some random person in my network reaches up through all that noise and reveals a truth, insight, hope or fear that hits me deep in the gut, brings tears to my eyes or makes me laugh out loud at the crazy beauty of this messy world of ours.
Like the tiny Who on the small spec of dust in Horton Hears a Who, that person’s loud “Yop!” rises above a chorus of voices, stops me in my tracks and reminds me that this feed that I watch all day is not just a stream of mindless messages, but thoughts stemming from a sea of real people, like…
- The person who sat across from a crazy lady with a flying squirrel tucked under her coat on the subway.
- The person who captured a photo of their child beaming with joy eating his first peach.
- The person riding a horse half a world away who described the sunset to me one evening in stunning detail.
- The person who shared her anguish after her child passed away in front of her.
- The person I’d never met who told me I was wonderful because they somehow knew it was something I would refuse to tell myself.
These are just a few of the people whose stories have briefly and serendipitously touched my life over the years as I’ve listened to the dust specs floating by.
Sadly, it’s become harder for me to hear those “Yops,” even when they are sent directly to my desktop. And, that’s as much my fault for letting my network get so big as it is the throng of brands who are drowning out conversations like sideshow barkers.
But I try to remind myself to keep listening for those voices anyway — even though there is no financial incentive, professional motivation or tangible reward for me to do so.
I do it because I need to remember that people can be kind, loving, compassionate and giving…even when all the evidence I see before me is to the contrary.
I do it because it because it is as much a gift to have earned an audience for my thoughts as it is to serve as an audience for the thoughts of someone else.
I do it because Horton was right in his simple, trusting way… “a person is a person, no matter how small,” and each one deserves to be heard, no matter how big we are.