101 ways to use Social Media to do Good
by Frances Leary
Published by Better Yourself Books, Bandra, Mumbai. 180 Pages. Price Rs 250
In this era of the ubiquitous and immensely popular listicle genre of content, it is tempting to dismiss this book as just another way to advance the click-bait culture of our times. After all, it has that magical numbers' start to the title, which is supposedly irresistible to both Millennials and Gen Z, with Baby Boomers tagging along, complete with mystified facial expressions.
Dismissing it would be a mistake. Ignore the cutesie title, pretty likely to put off those who have come to technology as immigrants who have given up all hope of integrating, except on occasion. Also ignore the twinges caused by the "101" nature of the book itself—a glancing reference to its level of communication about Social Media itself as pretty basic. Ignore it all, and engage with the work. I promise you will not regret it.
After all, how many of us Boomers look at Social Media, aware of its infinite possibilities, while lecturing to Millennials about its malignant nature as the biggest source of fake news, misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and outright lies.
At the same time, we know very well that, depending on the level of our media literacy, it is possible to harness the power of Social Media as a force for good. All we need to do is Understand It. AHA, but who has the time to Understand It in all its glorious and perplexing Complexities? Enter Frances Leary, described in the blurb on the back cover as "an expert in impact-driven online communication, speaking internationally, championing big ideas and empowering change."
Leary has set out to write, not just a practical book filled with constructive tips and ways to measure the impact of what one is reading, but also one that she hopes will be transformative. That is how much she respects social media, while never allowing it to control her.
Every action we take on Social Media is a choice, and once you accept this with complete consciousness, the rest just flows. Like it or not, this is society's most popular pastime now, and not all the cartoons in the world, mocking at this aspect of humanity, is going to change that.
At the very start, Leary provides "full disclosure" admitting she is one of those people for whom the glass is always half-full. For her, people are innately good. She consciously chooses words, thoughts and actions aimed at making the world a better place. But before you dismiss her as Miss Priss, reflect. Frances Leary runs her own online company. She came to Social Media late, hesitant to "embrace such a public forum" as Facebook! A few years later, Social Media became her lifeline. In between, she took the time to understand its power, especially its ability to magnify, make a big wave out of a ripple.
Every chapter, from 'Show Up and be Yourself', through 99 other suggestions to the last one - 'Be Soulcial' (sic), she explains patiently, exhorts, and finally suggests an Action that is the kicker in making this one different from the rest. Even when she urges you to get in step with the concept of Social Media, she rings the warning bells. For example, in Chapter 93, 'Celebrate Your own Success', she says, "Don't show off. If you are sharing, cheer on other people as well." Of course, this is with an online community as carefully chosen as your own actions. And in the very next one, she says, "Respond when someone reaches out. Respond!"
At the end of the book, there is more—a complete list of resources that supported her; invaluable because, in an online world, anyone can access them for extra reading. But the way I see it, most will require nothing more than this book.
It's a keeper.