From Selfish to Selfless: Why We Should Be Caring Before Sharing

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As an older member of the dubious club popularly referred to as Millennials, I have spent a lot of time on social media and a lot more time being lectured about it. We are inundated with statistics and perceptions —some real, some imagined—claiming that we are self-entitled. Self-absorbed. Selfie-obsessed. Selfish in general.

But I am not writing in defense of the Millennial. That’s because we, like social media, are maturing. Like any new, socially revolutionizing tech, social media is running its course: from novelty to mainstream; exclusive to inclusive; and a new binary that I would like to postulate as selfish to selfless.

Social media is a toolbox of platforms used to facilitate 3 Cs: communication, community, and commercialism. When I enrolled in Social Media Marketing at Baruch College this year, I expected to join other #studentvoices in learning some tricks of the trade related to that last C. How to build a brand. Advertise. Make money. Possibly cocoon myself in social media apps and emerge a witty, self-sustaining, work-from-home blogger with flocks of followers.

That butterfly transformation is pending, but I did learn a lot from my instructor, social media maven Sabrina Kizzie. What surprised me though, was the path that some of the most successful individuals and brands have taken to promote themselves: taking the “me” out of social media and focusing on the first 2 Cs.

Africa Miranda, a 2016 Shorty Award finalist for Periscoper of the Year, outlines her approach to livestreaming as a combination of engagement, entertainment, and education. Coincidentally, that’s also the formula for great teaching. Dennis Yu of BlitzMetrics, who spoke to us about Facebook advertising and analytics, was even more explicit in his philosophy of “Learn / Do / Teach.” And podcast whiz Chris Barrows of @WhyISocial attributes his success to putting #PeopleFirst, being present and being responsive.

The common denominator? Generosity.

We’ve all heard that old networking adage: “It’s not what you know -- it’s who you know.” That’s because you can’t promote what you know if you don’t have a community. You can’t build a community if you don’t communicate. And you can’t communicate without a fourth C: caring.

The best path to self-promotion on social media? It’s selflessness -- with your time, your ideas, and your content. It’s caring about the people surrounding you in virtual space as much as the people around you in real life -- because as the people over at Social Roadtrip know better than anyone, somewhere, they are real life.

Recognizing this shift is informing our attitudes toward social media more broadly as market sectors suss out what it’s great at, and what it’s not; what it’s contributing to, and diminishing from. Yes, we discovered that more people died attempting dangerous selfies than were killed by sharks last year. But BBC Newsbeat profiled how social media content is reshaping conversations about mental health. And Fortune reported on the resurrection of Politwoops, a Sunlight Foundation initiative that advocates for government transparency and accountability by archiving deleted tweets from politicians.

People are caring -- and then they are sharing.

So if you’re one of those people who are down on Millennials, social media, or both, I ask you: hold out hope. The very thing you think has irrevocably damaged our empathy and our work ethic, may in fact be our salvation. We’re still figuring it out; but it’s happening!

Please join me in enacting positive change through your social media, your blogs, and your online interaction. And follow along as I advocate for Global Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production, at CopyJess.

Keep on caring!


Cargo Collective 2017 — Frogtown, Los Angeles