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Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Psychology of Social Media for Social Good



Thought for Today: The Psychology of Social Media is strongly connected to what I called the Psychology of Unexpected Adventures in an earlier post on March 23rd. Unexpected adventures bring joy & sometimes help us shift direction in life. Some people call these events serendipity, the law of attraction or fate, but I think it is something different. The March 23rd post led me to discover a wonderful new product capable of helping multiple causes. I'd like to share their story as an example of the connection between social media & the Psychology of Unexpected Adventuress. How has social media led to an unexpected discovery or adventure for you? I'd love to hear your stories.

I saw a very funny, touching film yesterday at the Garden Cinemas , in Norwalk CT. We try to see all the movies played at this wonderful 4 screen art house, since they show films you may not find at the bigger establishments. I knew nothing about the movie, but trusted that it would be good if they brought it. I was not disappointed. I had not realized that Susan Sarandan was one of the stars along with Jason Segal, Ed Helms, & Judy Greer in the movie, Jeff Lives At Home. I don't want to ruin the movie for you, but in one sentence, getting out of your normal routine often leads to unexpected adventures. Jeff's mother, Susan Sarandan, is worried about him & her one birthday wish is for him to buy wood glue at Home Depot & fix a wooden slat on a louvered door on her closet. Jeff sees everything as signs of his destiny. He follows all the "signs" when he ventures out of the basement to go to Home Depot.

Jeff, (Jason Segal) who lives at home & is going nowhere in life, but he is not the only onewho is stuck. All the main characters in this movies are dissatisfied with their lives in one way or another. His mother (Susan Sarandan) is working hard at a job, but is lonely & dislikes both her sons. Ed Helms plays Jeff's brother who turns to extravagant purchases to try to fill the void he's feeling in his marriage. His wife, played by Judy Greer, is having an affair. She is looking for someone to pay attention to her, since she feels misunderstood by her husband. Each of the characters change their normal routine on the day reported in the movie & have unexpected adventures. In the movie, we only see one day in their lives, so we can only guess & hope that the adventures lead to changes in their lives.

You may be thinking, what does this have to do with the psychology of social media? I have loved the internet since I first started using it about 12 years ago. I have been able to "meet" people through the internet that I would never have met in real life without this technology. When I started using twitter last May, I did so since everyone in the world of publishing seemed to think it was important. Personally, I thought it was a silly platform where people tweeted about what they were eating for lunch. By the end of the summer, my view of twitter was totally different. I had used the platform to build several thousand followers including NPOs, authors, musicians, psychologists, philanthropists, & journalists interested in social activism. I discovered some (@BlindJudo, @Elimin8Prejudic, @VABC & @MusicFromABottle) of the NPOs included in my book through twitter. Many nonprofit organizations found me.

On March 23rd, on this blog, I asked readers to share their stories of unexpected adventures in their lives. I posted a tweet to my now 7500 followers on three twitter handles (@WakeUpDreamNow, @DreamNonProfits, & @PostTweetDreams). Three minutes later, here's what happened:

WakeUpDreamNow
WakeUpDreamNow: Are you open to unexpected discoveries & dreams? Amazing things can happen on the path to your dreams. See how... Link 8:31am, Mar 23 from Facebook
Eraselet
Eraselet: @WakeUpDreamNow Ck out how we followed our dreams and used our past to gv bk http://t.co/tPlVRezg 8:34am, Mar 23
 (The only change I made was to update the links which were no longer active!)

With over 7000 followers, I had not read about Eraselet before this twitter encounter. When I read their story, I loved it & promised to write about it after last Thursday's event Wings of Change at which I was preparing to speak along with other authors, philanthropists, educators & NPOs dedicated to changing the world. 

Behind @Eraselet is Bryan Ricci, another person on a mission to help change the world. His story can give hope to anyone who is struggling at this time. At age 15, Brian lived on the streets of Nashville. He was sleeping under bridges. Brian hopped from couch to couch to survive. “I didn’t know what to do,” Ricci said. “And then one day … I had this crazy moment. I hitchhiked to California, got a job waiting tables & turned my life around.” Fast forward, 16 years & now Brian at 31 is married with children & working to help others avoid the path he took as a teenager.

His current unexpected adventure started when Brian's 10 year old daughter kept losing erasers. Brian's wife, Kimberly Ricci, says that, "knowing how kids wear all those bands & bracelets around their wrists, Bryan told her he’d make her an eraser she could wear like (a bracelet).’’ He invented a rubber wristband, called an Eraselet, that doubles as an eraser. The wristband can be used as a marketing tool to promote slogans such as “Erase Hunger.” For the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission, “End Homelessness.” So the once homeless father, has found a way to help others erase homelessness & endless other causes.

I believe that once we decide to make a change in our lives & start moving towards our dreams, we begin to make changes which lead us to unexpected discoveries & adventures. Whether we get out in the real world or the virtual world of social media, we begin to discover people, organizations & ideas that can help us move forward towards our dreams. It is not some magical process even though it may seem magical. When you are stuck & start doing things differently, it becomes like a chain reaction leading to new opportunities. I hope this post brings multiple new opportunities for Brian's wonderful invention & reaches as many charities as possible!

What discoveries & encounters have you had using social media? I'd love to hear your stories!

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