Celebrating the Freedom to Connect

I’ve heard a lot about the social media revolution, this last year since I’ve been engaging in the blogosphere, and on Twitter. As the daughter of an American Revolutionary War historian—and living not far from Lexington and Concord, Ma—I have more of an appreciation and familiarity with revolutionary themes than most.

I still view Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord, MA, with the fondness of a childhood playground, as we often visited my Park Ranger father there, at work.

I remember especially well my parents waking up my brother and myself, in the middle of the night, on the eve of the American Bicentennial…I remember the crowds, the uniforms, the parades…I remember being dressed up as a young colonial, and the many snapshots of me that were taken that day—snapshots of “little Betsy Ross,” as one woman, visiting from France, happened to call me, in her lovely accented voice. Those snapshots are now possibly tucked away in dusty photo albums across the world—a time capsule of a shared American experience that still resonates for me, and for so many others in New England and beyond, when we come together each April to recall “the shot heard round the world.” Most of all, though I was only a child, I still remember the electric connection that I felt with everyone else that day who shared in our national celebration.

Minuteman Statue, April 19, 2010

This year, as we have on a few previous years, I wanted to share with my own kids the ideals, events, and sacrifice that we remember each year, on April 19th. We woke up about 4:00 a.m., and somehow found our way to what seemed like the only available parking spot in Lexington, MA. We watched the sunrise reenactment on Lexington Green, took a tour of Buckman Tavern, enjoyed a hearty pancake breakfast (sponsored by the Boy Scouts at the Church of St. Brigid’s), and attended a memorial service, at the grave of an unknown British soldier.

Then, we headed on over to down-town Concord, successfully navigating the many blocked roads, and again luckily finding parking. The highlight of the day, especially for my five-year-old son, was catching the stirring parade, full of Minutemen militia, British Redcoats, and all manner of honorable characters, who were returning from the Old North Bridge. We rounded out our day, with a visit to the Minuteman Statue, with my kids proudly being photographed there (as their childhood Mom had before them), only too happy to show off their recently acquired tricornered hats.

Welcome to the Social Media Revolution

So, what does this post have to do with social media? Why, everything, I think.

In the forward to Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, describes the nature of the social media revolution:

We’re living a revolution in the way people communicate. How did a relatively unknown, young, single-term senator with funny ears and a funnier name get elected President of the United States? Simple: He and his team understood the revolution and harnessed the power of the Web to communicate effectively with the masses… We’re living in a revolution in the way people find products and choose companies to do business with…We’re living a revolution where the companies that attract our attention are not the ones with big budgets and glitzy TV ads. Now we pay attention to the ones with great Web content…Inbound marketing is at the forefront of the revolution
(p. x111).

Radical or Revolutionary?

Minutemen Militia, Concord, MA

In the spirit of April 19th, here are thoughts on social media and democracy. Radical or revolutionary? You decide:

  • “When we change the way we communicate, we change society. Clay Shirky
  • “Social media is the democratization of information and the equalization of influence. Monologue gave way to dialogue and we the people ensured that our voices were not only heard, but felt.” Brian Solis
  • Groundswell: “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.”Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li
  • “Companies are in the midst of a social revolution–specifically, one being led by their customers and employees. The question becomes how do companies deal with it, but more importantly, how do they tap into the energy of potentially disruptive radicals and channel them into being revolutionaries who can lead positive, lasting change?” Charlene Li
  • “By requiring very little from each individual, the Web has made itself one of the most democratic tools for activism in history. Because we have access to so much right in front of us, we can help spread a message to thousands of people at once with only a click. We can donate a small amount of time or money and, with the help of a few thousand other people, dramatically impact politics or entertainment. We can make our views known more quickly, and with less effort, than ever before.” Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
  • “The freedom to connect – the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

This post is part of my ongoing Live with Abundance: Social Media for Good series.

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