Because understanding can be a difficult thing, world-class social media is no longer just good, or something that might help a career. World-class social media has become a requirement for those who seek to do something beyond themselves. That being said, just what is “world-class social media” and how does it help you negotiate your future?
We know how difficult it can be to make oneself understood by a close friend, and now we expect strangers to understand us? And understand to the extent that action can come from the writing? Well, yes. Think back to a recent time you sat down to write. Who were you writing for? In all probability you did not picture anyone at all – and if you did it was someone who the work was specific to (i.e. an embedded ad for clothes in a blog). But, if you were writing in Mandarin Chinese, did you picture an Italian working in the Vatican reading it? If you were writing in Tagalog did you picture a Dane living in Copenhagen reading it? For the past century, and particularly since the advent of the Internet and more than ever with social media, more and more of our writings must be accessible to an ever-larger audience.
Media, business, science, medicine, education and other critical human endeavors are facing these social media problems on a geometrically increasing scale. Our spheres of operations are no longer within a township area. How do communicators then tackle the problems that come with ever-changing social media? One thing when “going international” is wondering where the work will fail. Where will understanding not occur? Simply put, where are the minefields? We all know that writing can be “explosive” and yes, even be destructive. In the right place, in the right context, probably any book, blog, advertisement, film or song can be explosive. Why do you think that so many revolutions have closed universities and “re-trained” teachers, professors, writers and artists for other careers? We do not think of books (and increasingly blogs and websites) as mines, but there you go.
Who reads what you write?
The writer cannot control who opens a site to read it and how it will be read. The only thing the author can control is the text – the content – itself. Important enough, but understanding does not come with text. Understanding exists somewhere in that space between the reader and the content they are reading. How does one bridge that space? Part of that bridge may be trust and trust always comes from the author.
So what do you do? You sit down to create, and first you imagine it, re-imagine it, design it, write it and then you edit until every time you blink it feels as if sandpaper is being drawn across your pupils. And yes, it is an old, trite analogy but sometimes old, trite analogies are applicable in the extreme and good communication should be extreme. But that is just part of the work in writing for an international audience; one also has to access the shared. Humans share innumerable things, from the physical to the emotional to the psychological and beyond. Part of creating understanding is using those shared things.
And so you write, edit and rewrite again. The author must decide how much the reader must work at understanding. Is the blog good enough to make someone want to read it? Our creations must ultimately facilitate the reader in owning not only the words, but also the meaning behind those words.
But let’s face it, that all sounds just a bit, well, too easy and too difficult at the same time. Writers have to make it easy on their readers? Yes. If you write a letter and the person you’re sending it to can’t understand it, what was the point of writing it? It works the same way with anything we design, create, and write. If your customer can’t understand your menu, they won’t eat there; if your friends cannot decipher your letters how long will they remain close? If your business associates can’t understand your reports how long will you prosper?
Helping one another
So how do we get around the problem of understanding our content? Like anything else worthwhile, we work at it. But more than that, we have to have a reason to want to have someone understand. We have to have a reason to facilitate that understanding. Well, here are some great reasons: To achieve more at work, at home and at play; to be at peace; to express art in so many ways, to have more fun; to laugh louder; to cry more tenderly; to be stronger; to be more tender; to be more human.
And actually, it’s rather fun to work at understanding through social media. See, the more I know about you, the more I know about myself and the more I know about the world in general. And the more I know the better I am – in every way possible. Understanding each other really is a win-win situation. And social media makes it possible faster than we ever imagined.