The Power of Social Media and the Basic Goodness of People

blogathonYesterday I attended BlogathonATX 2015. I came away from there brimming with ideas about blogging, self-publishing, and how to use social media. But the most powerful session of the day had nothing to do with creating successful blogs, or SEO tips, or how to define your voice as a blogger. It was about a man, his family and friends, and the power of social media.

Beth Blauer, Brent Almond, and Beth’s cousin, BlogathonATX founder Ilene Haddad, told the story of Beth’s husband, Oren Miller, a stay-at-home father who recently passed away from lung cancer. Miller was also the founder of a popular Facebook group for stay-at-home dads.

They talked about how the Facebook/blogger community pulled together to support Miller and his family as he struggled with the disease. Powerful stuff. I can’t do justice to the discussion here, but suffice to say that by the end of the session, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

I believe in the power of social media to do good. I’ve seen it happen so many times. If you haven’t read The Bloggess’s post about the miracle of James Garfield, you need to go read it now. Strangers bought Amazon gift cards for people they had never met who needed help getting through the holidays. There are several James Garfield stories, but this was the post that started it all.

I know there are evil, heartless people in the world, but I choose not to dwell on those people or topics. I can’t. It would tear me apart. Instead, I choose to focus on the good and kindness around me. I choose to believe in the basic goodness of individuals.

I can’t scroll three posts down on Facebook without running into a video of someone saving an animal or doing a good deed for a stranger. Why? Because those are friends and sites I choose to surround myself with.

The other day, I stopped at a grocery store on my way to work to buy a birthday card for a friend. The man in front of me at the checkout was an elderly gentleman. He was slow. Nothing to do but wait, so I chose to be patient. (Yes, you have a choice.) As he was walking away, I noticed he had left two quarters at the cash register. I called after him and placed the money in his hand.

He thanked me and, suddenly, his face lit up. “You look just like my daughter! I can’t believe it! She’s a nurse!” I said something stupid like “Well, they say everyone has a double somewhere.”

He nodded and started shuffling toward the door, repeating “I can’t believe it!” several times on his way out. Obviously, he loves his daughter very much. I bet he went home and called her to tell her he found someone who looks just like her.

Even though I didn’t do anything but give him his 50 cents back, I like to think I made his day, just by being in that place at that time. So go make someone’s day, even if it’s just by being there. Choose goodness. Be kind. The world becomes a bit better when you do.