I’ve been blogging for over nine years now. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in this computer chair, tapping out words. The computer has changed, the room I sit in has changed, but the chair hasn’t and the solitude hasn’t. (Well, actually, the solitude kind of has, in that I’m rarely truly alone anymore, but writing is still something I’m doing by myself.) When I saw that this year’s Blog Action Day theme is The Power of We I was kind of at a loss. What am I part of? How am I joining forces with others to effect change?
There are many bloggers who do a fabulous job of advocating for – and creating – positive change. They’re activists who put themselves out there, calling out corruption, inequity and unethical behaviour when they see it. I admire them, but the truth is I can’t take the heat. I’ve written posts that garnered controversy and it quite honestly kept me up at night. Looking back on it now I feel anxious just thinking about it. The truth is that I would really like to just join hands with everyone and sing “Kum Bah Yah”. Then maybe interview them about the experience of holding hands and singing for my podcast. I’m a storyteller, not an activist, and I’m comfortable with that.
At the same time, we can no longer ignore the power of the Internet. The role that social media played in the Arab Spring, for instance, is well known. When we break down the barriers to connection and communication, people can organize and share ideas in new ways. Anyone, anywhere can share their message with the world. Amid the funny cat videos and the celebrity blogs and the Gangnam Style spoofs, there’s some great stuff. Online you can learn how to knit or be inspired or join a political party or learn about history or share your story so that someone who reads it feels just a little bit less alone. While blogging may feel like a solitary act, the truth is it never is.
Photo Credit: Michael Glasgow on Flickr
Every time that you reach out to someone else online to share a piece of information, offer support or create community, you’re exercising the power of we. You’re creating something that you could not create by yourself. You may not be taking on powerful CEOs or building non-profit societies to save the world. That’s okay, we don’t all have to contribute in the same way. But I choose to believe that when we do contribute, by offering the best of ourselves to the world, we’re building something.
My circle of influence isn’t large, and yours may not be either. But if having kids has taught me anything it’s that I don’t have to change the world. I can change one person’s world at a time. Sometimes, a single word delivered at the right time can make a huge difference. We just need to have the courage to show up and speak it, in the way that no one else can. If we all do that, online or offline, we’re making the world a better place to live in. We’re engaging the power of we.
Using your voice isn’t always easy. It’s an act of trust, and sometimes it still makes me nervous. I choose to do it all the same. Will you join me?