26 January 2015

Using social media mindfully and for social good is not graffiti.

Saying social media has as much place as graffiti frightens and disappoints me no end.

I'm one of many, many people using social media for social good, and these words feel closed minded, insulting and callous.

I'm tired of people who don't use social media getting prickly at the thought of what might be happening online without even taking a look.

Social media fosters diverse, important discussion. It is also used to entertain, educate, connect and let a broad audience know how policies, prices and change impacts on individuals. It’s a public, current census, identifying the state of the world. And graffiti is not just ugly scrawl. Have you seen Hosier Lane?

I am tired of people who don’t use social media tell me that it’s dangerous, pointless and reputation ruining. I feel sad that such people will never open their minds to the connection and change that social media can bring.

They’ll never know how wonderful it is to form a friendship with a like-minded person from across the world. 

They'll never know the satisfaction of being offered writing and speaking work after a company discovers them on twitter. 

They'll never know how life affirming it is to connect with others who have a rare severe illness after half a lifetime of being alone.

They'll never know the relief of someone who has lost everything receiving support after a natural disaster - through generous, can-do people banding together online.

They’ll never know the chills experienced receiving an email to tell them their words have changed their life for the better - because until they came across a blog or a tweet, they thought they were all alone.

They’ll never understand how program we watch or listen to alone can be turned into a community event with the second screen.

They’ll never know how a blog’s following can raise $20 or $200,000 for people in need.

They’ll never be able to experience the pride of taking an online community into an offline community.

I can't begin to tell you how frustrating it is having to prove that I'm using social media for good - because attitudes against social media combined with inexperience set the standard. In a meeting with a superior, I was told that there are concerns that I am too passionate about social media, disability and appearance diversity, and this might be a problem. When I invited them to have a read of my blog and social media, I was told they don't use the medium. 

I am accountable for everything I write online, and I am happy for anybody to read what I’ve written. I use social media mindfully, at all times. And if it wasn’t for my positive work on social media, other leaders would not be asking me to work for them. It is confidence shattering hearing people tell you they don't believe in what you do because it involves social media.

Of course social media is used poorly. I’ve been on the receiving end of poor use. Hell, I’ve occasionally made some poor choices when on social media, I regret losing a few friendships through it. People are bullied online. Reputations are ruined. Information is leaked, or misinformation spread. I’ve seen some terrible hate speech. I see it every day. But I see - and experience - how the good outweighs this negativity thousandfold.

But these people - the ones who don’t use social media, who think it has no purpose, dangerous even - have got to start trusting those who use it well. Enough with encouraging employees to dob in their colleagues. Enough with the distrust yet lack of willingness to explore the positive options.

Base model behaviour on those who who using social media for social good, and not on those who aren’t using it well at all. I challenge whoever it is that alerts those in charge about bad things happening on social media, to alert them to the good things too. 

See that anteater up there? That photo was taken when I was walking through East London. There's a bit of scrawl around it, but the thing that stands out is the beautiful artwork. Look at the detail, the dedication to create and preserve it.  And that's the same as with social media. There's some negative talk, but it's overwhelmingly positive, if you just take the time to explore.

What I do through blogging and my social media channels to create social change is more than just illegal scrawl on an abandoned train.


  1. I think people like Tony Abbot and other close minded folk is that they are scared. They are conservative and living in the past and fearful. The world they inhabit is full of fear and in the case of Tony Abbott he likes to keep it that way. Keep the masses scared. Fortunately there are enough of us who seek alternative methods to find our news and keep ourselves informed. To claim that social media is just like graffiti speaks volumes about a man who is scared and doesn't understand this generation at all. Social media has such an important place in this world and it's not going away, even though they'd like it to. Great response Carly. I'm going to share it.

  2. Social media is like graffiti is like saying let them eat cake. Well intentioned I am sure, but totally clue less and arrogant, displaying a total disconnect between someone who has everything with the vast majority who do not.

  3. I find it incredible that people in business cannot be aware of the positive effects of social media. Sad that they do not appreciate your ground breaking work but perhaps it is because you challenge their basic ways of thinking and that makes them uncomfortable. Sad not to even look into it. I may not always agree with the way you put something but reading your blog is inciteful and helping to change my virw of things too. Keep up your good work.


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