I remember getting in trouble as a teenager. The story beat me home. I was stunned at the velocity of information in a small community. The chain went like this: Something happened. People talked. And the story spread. Fast.
I guess that’s why social media, to me, is an old form of storytelling. It’s how we naturally tell stories, spreading the word to one friend (or follower) in real time. And then another. And again.
But while the forum is essentially the same, there are two new twists, the use of digital tools and the increased size of our network. (A generation ago our “network” might be a few friends gathered for coffee at the trading post. Today it’s a thousand friends on Facebook, their thousand friends, and definitely more on Twitter, Tumblr or Snapchat.)
The ice bucket challenge to raise money to prevent ALS — Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — or Lou Gehrig's Disease is a great example of how social media works. The brilliant campaign has earned more than $70 million with the goal of creating a world “without ALS!”
Every day my Facebook feed has new posts from someone taking this challenge. (Of course this whole challenge thing is familiar anyway. It’s a lot like the Winter Challenge that spread across Canada and Indian Country. Carielynn Victor, from Chilliwack, B.C., told Global News Canada that the idea was not a new one, but the concept of taking it public was new.)
So why ALS? It’s a fabulous cause and worth doing. That said: What if Indian Country could harness social media to impact the diseases that are killing most of our friends and family?
So heart disease is the leading killer in Indian Country. What if we raised money for research and action for American Indians and Alaska Natives? Or diabetes? Or any disease that impacts most of us. It could be money targeted to make a real difference in our lives.
Then, the power of social media is not just about money. Imagine what we could do to health disparities if social media challenged tens of thousands of people to walk more. Or eat better. Then post results in real time so that we all stay on task. (more…)