We live in a time in history when we are more connected than we’ve ever been before. We have 24/7 internet access with multiple social media platforms keeping us updated at all times. But have our online connections come at the cost of our human connections? I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately as I feel torn between wanting to maximise the potential for information and idea sharing on social media and the possibility for education, personal growth and society progression, juxtaposed with a growing sense of disillusionment.
No matter what the issue – climate change, massacres and gun control, marriage law change, refugees or race issues – I feel like what we continue to see is the loudest voices shouting at each other, congratulating their allies and jeering at their adversaries in a vitriolic manner that we just don’t see offline. Do you know what I don’t see? Much listening.
A friend of mine shared very openly and honestly this past week some of his very personal experiences about growing up black in the US. He shared some quite horrifying accounts because from what I could tell he was sick and tired of seeing people on the other side of the fence make sweeping generalisations about the right or way wrong to protest without doing one fairly critical thing – listening to the protester/s. Learning their stories. Hearing what it’s like. TRYING to understand. Before my friend removed himself from social media completely - he had decided after much contemplation that while platforms like Facebook seem like the perfect place to educate a mass amount of people, in reality it just shows users what they like, reinforcing your own opinions and contributing to a self-selected social division - he said a couple of things that I thought were quite profound and challenged me to my core.
How often do we reach a verdict based on whatever information is CONVENIENT to us? Do we ever bother to dig deeper? To listen? To engage with a cause or an issue that we DON’T understand.
I'm still hoping, that social media can have a positive impact. But I’m not seeing a lot of it at the moment. As a business our vision and our dream is that through social media and engagement with each other we can create meaningful, global connections. We can connect our consumers with the craftspeople and the creators on the other side of the world. Individuals who have a story. Who face poverty and oppression but who are using their crafts and their expertise to provide for their family. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what our humanity is all about? Creating authentic, meaningful connections. With our families and our friends sure, but also with our neighbours and people we meet on the street. Or people on the other side of the world, whose stories and experiences we can’t pretend to know but we can and should attempt to hear, to understand.