“What is REAL?” the Velveteen Rabbit asked the Skin Horse one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
One of the funniest comments that I often hear when I talk with people for the first time on the phone or in person, after meeting them on social media, is “Wow, you are really real!”
And my gut reaction is to always wonder what they thought they would find.
- A robot?
- An ominous voice?
- Something like the Great Oz when Dorothy and gang run into the Emerald City?
I laugh. I talk with animation in my voice. I am just as passionate about social media use in emergency management as I seem to be online. And I will listen to those who call and aim to help where I can.
I am not a celebrity though it always makes me laugh when people use that word. I am simply a girl who tweets and, over the past 5-6 years, I have garnered a following of people who read what I write, react sometimes hilariously, disagree rather vehemently and discuss topics that are important to this profession we call “emergency services.”
Last night I enjoyed a brief, but fun conversation, with a new connection on Twitter and Skype.
We chatted about our work, our kids and the concern of how my new friend fits into the SMEM Community. But there are so many folks who are just like my new friend. They are not necessarily “professional emergency managers” but they bring with them a unique perspective and will have talents to offer when their next local disaster strikes. His special comment to me last night was that he feels like he is able to contribute because of how real and approachable some of us “old-timers” have been in conversations with him.
The beauty of social media is that it breaks down the silos and the walls that exist between experiences. We have the unique opportunity to see people for how they engage and how real or unreal they interact and transact within communities.
If you are willing to engage in real conversations, you will find people and communities of folks who will add depth and perspective to your life in so many unique ways.
Nearly 17 years ago, the maid of honor at my wedding read the above passage from the Velveteen Rabbit as part of her toast. To this day, this passage brings tears to my eyes as it continues to serve as the inspiration for how I engage with folks day by day.
Be willing to be vulnerable.
Be willing to help others.
Be willing to be loved.
While I write most often about the #SMEM Community, it isn’t the only one active on social media. And, in fact, my friends in other communities report very similar experiences to mine which serves simply to illustrate that people can find those niche communities that interest them.
Find Yours Today.