Social Media

The Social Side of Southern Hospitality

A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I grew up in a small town in Kentucky.  I mean really, really small. Here’s a hint: I share a hometown with the latest “America’s Got Talent” winner.  I’ll let you do the math on that one. Anyway , the whole town had about 10,000 people in it, zero Starbucks (heck, no coffee-shops of any kind), and didn’t even have high speed internet until right around the turn of the century (how I got from there to here is a completely different story entirely). But, if you ask around in town, especially to the “old-timers”, and mention my last name, chances are the question about my grandfather or parents will come up.

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My grand-dad works at the local funeral home as an usher.  He put in his years at the Goodyear tire plant in Union City, TN until he retired, but (being the ever active person he is) he decided to keep working doing something he loves – interacting with people.  He’s the song-leader at a small Baptist church, and also helps out with a friend of his who’s an auctioneer on the weekends.

But, doing all this, I swear he knows every single person in town.

Why is he so well known?  Does he have money?  Not a lot.  I mean he has enough to get by, but what he does have he’s always willing to share with a friend (or in some cases, a complete stranger).  He’s always working, as you can tell, but he’s never too busy to help out someone who needs to borrow a truck or tractor.  And at the funeral home, I guarantee that if you wanted anyone telling you that things were going to be OK, it would be my grand-dad.  People still tell me that he was one of the people that helped them get through their grieving loss.

Thing is, my grand-dad gives, and gives, and gives, without a single thought of how or even if others will pay him back.  He doesn’t expect a reward out of it – he does it simply for the thought of seeing how it can help anyone and everyone around him. 

And when he does help out people, word gets around.  People talk about the kind gentleman who handed them a tissue at the funeral home and told them everything would be OK.  They talk about the guy who brought a plate of food to their house when they were sick or bedridden.  They mention my grand-dad, who loaned them a tractor – a huge, metal farm machine – when theirs broke down, without even a mention of cost or payment.

Little by little he changes their lives, even if in a small way.  And, in doing so, I’m sure his own life is changed as well – and that keeps him doing the great things he does for people.

Those of us who truly “get” the power of social media have a power on our hands that no one has really come to realize yet.  Sure, that sounds totally cliché, but think about the people that you meet on a daily basis.  Sure, you may not have 10,000 followers (or maybe you do!) but chances are the network of reach you have on your friends list equals out to a small city, or even a small subdivision or neighborhood (around 300 people). 

Did you get that? You have the potential to impact an entire neighborhood of people.

You have the ability and means to take someone’s life, make it a small bit better, and then watch them pay the favor out to their neighborhood of influence.  The effect is truly viral in nature.

Go out and do something nice for someone else today.  In a world that reeks of bad vibes, rudeness (more and more as of late than ever), and self-serving people, a good deed is one that hardly goes unnoticed.

And once you’ve done it, don’t talk about it.  That’s the hard part, but the biggest sacrifice that we as social media users can do is not bragging about how awesome we are online.  Do your deed, step away, and know that you’ve changed someone’s life… even if it’s only one small thing, you’re making a world of difference to someone else.