The Power of Passion

I’ve been a social media junkie since I can remember. Now, social media is normally associated as a ‘new thing’ but it’s been around since the invention of the internet in the form of bulletin, message boards, text based chat rooms where you asked a/s/l? Twitter, Myspace and Facebook have just expanded on those early forms of communication. But in the end, it’s pretty much the same idea.

I’ve seen in the span of those 10+ years the power of passion.

To steal from Buffy the Vampire Slayer –

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.”

Now of course, the main idea of passion is love – romantic love mostly, but passion also sparks in people over a wide and varied amount of topics. The most recent examples? Twitter’s Magpie debate, Motrin’s Babywearing Ads, the USA elections, Prop 8, etc.

Passions are amazing things. They lead to amazing pieces of art, science, dance, music and, as Angelus said in Buffy – they can be the source of our finest moments. The flip side can be they can lead to our worst moments too. Too often has friendship been shattered, relationships lost, and life broken over passion. Consider the extreme case of Adolph Hitler, a man of intense passion.

There’s some easy subjects to get me fired up about. Illegal immigration, religious freedom, treating people as equals, anything involving kids or pets, Joss Whedon, and the list goes on.

What I am saddened by is not that we get passionate, but often in the midst of our passions we forget the basic tennant of social media – social interactions, human beings. We lose sight of the idea that your participation in a social media situation makes you responsible for how you treat your fellow man or woman (or kid or cat, as the case may be).

There are many ideas and decisions that effect our relationships. Moving a distance from your best friend might cause you to lose touch. An aunt selling Mary Kay may cause you to stop calling them because of their incessant pitching. Your sister’s new cat may keep you from visiting over Christmas.

But should it?

Making and breaking of relationships is a fact of life. How many times did someone tell you “you may not be friends with that person forever…” My parents were fond of, “your friends will come and go but family is forever.” And that can be true, but I would hate for something as inconsequential as my aunt’s new business opportunity, my sister’s cat, or a length of distance cause me to miss out on living life with someone that I truly care about.

Focusing on the problem, “oh my Twitter friend can’t shut up about his new fishing rod”, rather than all of the reasons you followed that person in the first place leads to an increasingly selfish model of social media. I believe America’s focus on consumerism has lead us to forget that we’re in it to give as much as we are in to get.

I’ll admit I’m a huge proponent of Gary Vanderchuck’s idea that ‘there is no noise’. Decluttering your friends list is not something I propose or support personally. I believe anyone who wants to get in contact with you or communicate with you is valuable and adds value to you as a whole person. They contribute to the “stone soup” as I like to call it.

Social Media stone soup is the idea from the fairy tale that everyone on their own had ingredients that, when combined, made a delicious soup. But without contributing there’d be only a stone in a pot of water.

All this said, I’m also a supporter of “make it work”. The philosophy that you need to have social media communication and situations that work for you – so you get the most out of it. If a relationship is not working for you because of your life choices, that’s fine. But consider the person behind the choice – not just a blanket choice for choice sake. And don’t force your views of ‘make it work’ on others.

Passion is a beast. It can be used for good (as I recently saw with the people who jumped up to support Doug Price, a podcaster who lost his home in the recent CA fires) or evil (the amount of broken friendships I saw over the 2008 elections). Just make sure that you’re ruling your beast, not it ruling you.

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