It is easy to focus on the negative side of social media, from the banalities of some bloggers to the nastiness of some comments, from the sleazy things accomplished through anonymity to the hurt and pain people seem to be able to cause one another. You don't see much reporting on those instances where social media provides a platform for allowing the best of us to shine. Sure, you see some, like mainstream media's coverage of the Frozen Pea Fund, but it grabs more attentionâ€"and linksâ€"to report on the dark side.
Yet social media do often bring out the best in people. This was my thought as I was scrolling through comments left to the post on Barack Obama's blog containing his and his sister's statement on the passing of their grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. One comment, from Jason in Altoona, Pennsylvania, reads, "I will be voting for John McCain tomorrow, but I want to convey my deepest sorrow and condolences to Senator Obama and his family for their loss. I lost my grandmother a year ago, so I know how hard it can be."
Most of the comments in response to Jasonâ€"all from Obama supportersâ€"are gracious and heartfelt, like this one: "Thank you Jason. May we all aspire to the generosity of spirit you are exemplifying."
It is truly uplifting to see, the night before the election when partisan passions are running high, that people on opposite sides can put the politics aside and be human. You have to wonder how much of that would be visible if Jason didn't have Obama's blog on which to leave his thoughts. It is my sincerest wish that we see more of social media's ability to bring us together than the divisive uses to which it is often put.
a shel of my former self, a blog from organizational communications consultant Shel Holtz, addresses the intersection of technology, business, and communication.