Social Media Support Group – at Truth: Coffee Cult Friday, 17 June 2011

Posted on June 24, 2011

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Social Media Support Group – at Truth: Coffee Cult Friday, 17 June 2011

I arrived breathless, late and unsure what to expect. I had connected with Adin (aka. No Money Guy) through Facebook a week before, and thought this event would be a good opportunity for us to meet at last in person. I was interested in his story, as well as that of the Ubuntu Girl, who herself was running the workshop in collaboration with the intriguing No Money Guy.

Sonja, Ubuntu Girl was there to chat to us about how social media helped her on her personal project of finding the essence of Ubuntu in our community: in 1 year she stayed with 150 different families from 16 different cultures, and no money was exchanged whatsoever. Among the handful that came together around that table was Sven, local cycling ambassador, who specialises in what he calls ‘Eventism’, where he cycles to events and thus gets in free for making an environmental statement. Adin and Sonja mention that they will soon be hosting their own TV program called ‘UbuntuDigital TV’ and so Adin points a camera at Ubunti Girl while she explains to the collective what she did, and why and how Social Media helped her in her mission.

We have to go around first to say who we are, what we are doing etc. When it gets to me I blush deeply, stuttering something about ‘fun with a conscience.’ But I realise quickly I’m among friends here, and there is no need to feel shy.

‘I wanted to find stories of good,’ explainSonja. She describes her sadness about the negative views of one another in society and how much alienation exists, how much we tend to distrust one another. She set off in East London, was living off others hospitality for a good 351 days during which she actually put on weight! She admits that this experience allowed her to learn the power of being present.

‘There was always a door,’ she smiles as she remembers, and tells us she always had the idea of writing a book based on her Ubuntu experiences in the back of her mind.

Completely at the mercy of people’s help, Sonja collected many stories of Ubuntu during this time. She was basically missioning around looking for friends, food and a place to sleep. She said somewhere along her travels, which had by that time gathered her quite a lot of publicity through her blog and online networking, she received a call from Adin. ‘And just like that, I felt like a cartoon character. Here I was Ubuntu girl getting a call from No Money Guy!’ she laughs. She says she ended up staying with 150 families.

Ubuntu Girl now has a big following from 50 different countries and is busy working on her book. ‘If it wasn’t for social media, none of this would have happened.’ She says, emphasising the power of communicating ideas on such a large scale as the Internet. We discuss as a group the idea of Ubuntu as it means to us. Sonja’s definition is that ‘.I am because you are because we are. ‘No man be an island,’ Adin adds, quoting Desmond Tutu. I am reminded of the Rastafarian saying ‘I-and-I’.

We talk about how our society brings us up to believe we should become ‘independent’ of one another, and we all agree that is it better rather we work towards being ‘inter-dependent’ with one another. Social Media has allowed concepts like ‘crowd-funding’ (eg. Kickstarter.com) and ‘crowd-sourcing’ to take place (a good example is Wikipedia).

Adin begins telling us how online platforms can serve as a useful marketing tool/gimmick and resource. He emphasises how social networking sites like ‘Facebook’ make our community ‘more coherent’. He says that the digital arena is allowing us to re-establish that sense of Ubuntu, something the Western Culture seemed to have lost somewhere along the way.

He goes on to point out that Social Media encourages us to contribute to one another and to collaborate.

Advising somebody on how they can use Facebook to help promote their brand, Adin suggests that she make friends with her clients. ‘The fact that the brand can crack a joke makes a difference, as does a brand that can reply to a question in colloquial language,’ he says.

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