It is early morning as I am typing from a coffee shop across the road from the yacht club in Simons town. They are not officially open and still prepping for the actual launch on the weekend. For now, they are serving coffee in a fairly hollow sounding space, music blaring from the barista’s mobile phone. He made me a cortado the way I like it. I have posted a pic on Instagram stories and tagged their address. Hopefully, it will create a little ripple and peek interest (and ideally support) for this new local business.
Last night was #curryclub dinner and the conversation varied between why people become vegetarian vs hunting for your own food, we talked about recycling and the state of our ocean and planet in general. We also touched on social media and how we engage and share our lives online. And why we do it?? Interesting topics and opinions as varied as the spices in our curries. Just prior to the dinner, I posted a short video (also on Instagram stories) mentioning the “curry club” with the idea to take a few pics of the meal, share online as a follow-up Insta story and get the word out for Heather and her restaurant. But I opted to stay in the conversation and off my phone.
So why are we here?
”Lives through devices” can get unhealthy, overused, abused, and a bit much. It is often overwhelming. Time-consuming. Everyone has an opinion and now everyone has a soapbox. I am of the opinion that some people are using social media because everyone else is. It is not a conscious decision, it is just, well… the thing everyone is doing. They have a look, scroll down, join in where and when they feel like it and browse out of interest. Nothing wrong with that. We are social beings at the end of the day. I am often in conversations where people raise concerns about people and their addictive nature. There are reports of influencers and social media “celebrities” suffering from severe depression when the pressure to perform and keep traction is on. We haven’t even touched kids and the internet, society’s health as a whole and social skills changing. This whole thing can be a heated debate.
But I want to cut to the chase.
Like anything in life, you have a responsibility with what you allow into your life. No one else does. And what you do with what you allow in, is also YOUR responsibility. When something in your life works for you, adds value or can be used as a tool to help others (and yourself), is that not a great thing to use to achieve some sort of a greater good?
My approach is very simple: make it work for you to improve (your own life, those around you and the things you care about). If it adds value – great. If it doesn’t: find a way around that, learn to understand it and use it better. And if that doesn’t work: let it go.
So, as I walked back to the boat after dinner, I thought I cannot just leave it there.
Instead of photos of our curries, I posted a series of clips and created a quick poll on Instagram, asking people to share their thoughts. It looked like this:
The good news is that the majority (of my connections) get ideas, motivation and valuable relationships with social media. Most have a balanced life, lots of interest and simply use social media as a TOOL to improve their lives, support their interest and the things they care about. *
Let’s focus on the positive (that is a choice) and in no particular order,
5 GOOD NEWS stories (there are way more) from my time on SOCIAL MEDIA:
STORY 1: I was scrolling through Twitter about 7 or so years ago. Someone posted a link and said: “Listen to this song!” I did. It was from a local Cape Town guy. I listened to the song. And the one after. I immediately fell in love with his style and passion for music. The exact sequence of events I forget, but I know I dragged Christo and a couple of friends to one of his live shows and then bought a CD too. We connected in real life and became friends. We invited him to our house for a home concert and much later, when we organized a farewell for our house, he was the obvious choice for live music. It feels supporting someone with passion and talent.His music has been a big part of our lives in Cape Town and that is all thanks to Twitter. So glad I met you and got exposed to your music and passion, Josh. You can listen to his music here.
STORY 2: A friend posted on Facebook about a young traveling couple looking for a place to stay in Cape Town. It tickled my interest and I made contact. They have been traveling by motorcycle for years. She started solo and they later joined forces, so to speak, in Tanzania. They were looking for a few nights of comfort in a house before they head on an up towards Namibia. What started as an “mm, it would be interesting to meet her and we DO have space for them to sleep” became a lifelong friendship. I Googled the living daylights out of her profile, researched her via all her social media channels, figured they seem pretty legit and invited them to stay with us. They ended up staying way longer than they thought, found a place to rent around the corner from us, and we became really good friends. When Mike and Danielle eventually had to get back on their bikes and hit the road, we were all very sad but were left a great chapter filled with wonderful memories. All thanks to a connection online made into a real-life friendship. You can read Danielle’s side of the story here.
She has also shared some insight into just what social media has meant to her during her time on the road.
STORY 3: 15 Years after meeting a COMPLETE stranger in a market in Hong Kong, I did the New York City Sidewalk Dance with Jann and his daughter. I cannot even begin to explain what Jann meant to me all those years ago. In a nutshell: I was denied entry in Bali, was interrogated at two different airports due to visa issues as a result of being the owner of a really horrible passport for traveling (South African passports are not made for easy traveling). I ended up in Hong Kong trying to sort out the “beach-holiday-turned-sour”. He literally saved me from a very dodgy spot in Kowloon, bought me a meal, organized safe accommodation for me and made sure I phoned my mom. It was 2000. We stayed in contact via email, but email addresses change and passwords get forgotten. We reconnected via Facebook years later. When I was arranging my trip to New York. I made contact to see if they will be around. 15 Years later I was able to say thanks again, meet and have meals together with him and Briana Rose and their kids. I also was able to get the ONE LAST picture that was missing from the album of my time in Hong Kong. It was taking on film, printed and stored in a box in their attic. Full circle. Read the notes on my trip to NYC here
STORY 4: I made Christo a video of 3min for our 10 year anniversary. It was made up of some highlights of our adventures together. I thought I would share it online. A received a message from a friend about a competition Land Rover was running at the same time. They wanted an original clip of 30sec showing what adventure and “Going Beyond” means to you. She thought I video was spot on. The work was already done, we simply had to reduce it to the competition specifications and enter. We ended up winning the South Africa leg and was entered into the international one too. Our prize spoilt us to a trip away to the very exclusive Tswalu Lodge in the Kalahari. Private jet there and back. All expenses paid. Something we would never be able to afford. We were also able to take two friends with. It was such an awesome experience and such a special memory. It was also our friends’ wedding anniversary on the weekend (talk about trusting your gut – we did not know before the time) I never would have known about or had that experience if 1. I did not share the video (original and the 30sec one) 2. I was not made aware of the competition.
STORY 5: Let’s get to business. This list is long. The amount of local and/or small businesses, artists, initiatives, and events I have been able to support are endless. The Cotton Company, Malok clothing, Freestyle, Vivolicious, BettyBlu, jewelry and swimsuit designers aplenty, all the little coffee shops and restaurants, the once off events, the retired elderly gentleman that makes the most divine carrot cake in Muizenberg, the co-working space in Palmer Road, the housemate from London that we could make contact with after she moved to Canada (and we moved to back to South Africa) and that was able to join a part of our roadtrip in California, the thousands of places I can visit through what YOU share online and all the ones I have missed. The new friends we meet only to realize we are already connected through so many others…It was all made possible by our online contact, right here.
Here’s to all the positive. Here’s to all the beautiful. Let’s share that.
There are no hard and fast rules, but this works for me:
- I share because it is a way to keep a record of my memories and connect. To those close and far away.
- I keep it real by making contact offline too wherever possible.
- I aim to keep it authentic and real. Always.
I still sometimes have a tad of love-hate towards social media, BUT I choose to CHOOSE it…For a better life and for a nudge that connections to places, people and experiences can happen a little easier.
PS. There are many more stories and I am sure you have some too. If you are up for it, send me a message and share yours 🙂 Let me know what good news social media stories you have.