Optimized Search for Personal Optimization? Huh? Looks like Temple University may have taken one of the first serious looks into how Social Media Networking may benefit those suffering through some tough times: Find Emotional Help on Social Sites. Sound familiar? This has been my thesis since I was able to lose 50 pounds in less than a year using Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, et al. It is the crux of this very blog. Losing weight was a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. It starts to get a little bit fuzzier if you have someone say that just got separated and is heading towards a divorce; how to apply the SMART principles in this situation may not be so cut and dry – it is much more than reaching a goal. I am a firm believer, however, that Social Media can be used to help develop definable and attainable goals no matter what the difficulty or challenge may be or at the very least bring us closer to what we want and move us further away from what we don’t. Now, for people with gross mental health issues like suicidal thoughts or extreme substance abuse issues, professional help and medication may certainly be the answer. I am not advocating ditching your Dr. and using the Internet as a sole substitute for any professional medical advice. Nor do I advocate a hermetic lifestyle where Facebook replaces traditional social stomping grounds such as the playground, local bar or bingo hall.
However, it is a Social Network and may prove a valid vehicle compensating for the diaspora in which we all live in this post-modern chaos, with grandparents living 1000 miles away, siblings 1000 the other way, friends from college off in new states with new friends and families, divorces, new unions, where half- and step- and -in law get so confusing they just get dropped. Point being, the traditional, socially nurturing network has slowly but surely been being destroyed over the past 50-75 years. But in its place is something else, something new and something actually pretty cool and exciting. Skype puts grandma right back into the living room. Twitter puts 1,000,000 sufferers of the same physical ailment from which you are suffering a click away. Facebook creates a high school reunion on a daily basis. Your parents had a tough time keeping after you when you were a teenager and probably didn’t even care so long as you made it home safely, but today corporations KNOW where you are, what you bought, who you are with… Certainly a brave, BRAVE, new world! It’s not going away, so lets learn how to use it and embrace it as the tool it was imagined up to be.
In less than two months since I started “in11months” I have learned an incredible amount from an astronomical quantity of people. Imagine if I had to pay $20 (my physician’s visit co-pay) to every person I learned something from over the past month. A back (of the back) of an envelope calculation tells me I am tens of thousands of dollars in the hole. Thank you everyone!!!! Yes even Mr. Sheen gave us #Winning which right now, thanks to all the folks on Twitter, I believe I am!!!