With all the recent discussion around tone-deaf soda commercials, I wanted to tell you about the soda commercial that made me fall in love with using technology to foster deeper offline relationships.
Four years ago, Coca-Cola released a video ad for their initiative, "Small World Machines." In the commercial, they "set out to break down barriers and create a simple moment of connection between two nations – India and Pakistan." And they sought to create this connection through soda machines in each country that allowed for people in India and Pakistan to interact with one another by completing tasks like touching hands or drawing peace, love, and happiness symbols.
I credit this ad with showing me that technology can be used with purpose in mind. Through technology, we have the opportunity to create space for relationships with people of different ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, political opinions, etc. You can even Skype with an entire class of 5th & 6th graders from Canada and empower them to spread kindness in their communities.
However, in my opinion, the beauty of technology is not what happens online, but what those interactions lead to offline. While social media has been a great catalyst for spreading the mission of Car Window Poetry around the world, the real work happens when you are empowered to step away from your phone or computer, write a poem or two, and go out and share those words of hope and love with hurting people around you.
If you'll allow me to be vulnerable, I remember talking to my friend on the phone back in December and venting to her about how frustrated I was that people weren't taking pictures of the poems they received and sharing them on Instagram. She then asked me one of the most important questions I've heard since starting Car Window Poetry: "How often do you go out and share poems?"
Caught off guard, I began pridefully offering excuses for why I wasn't sharing poems as much as I should be. Then, it hit me: a movement requires movement. That day, I made a conscious decision to go out as many days as possible during the week and share poems with people in my community. And it's funny – when I went out that day, I got an email later on from a woman who desperately needed the poem she received.
Yes, there's a lot happening online. But coming from someone who spends 40 hours per week as a Digital Marketing Specialist, none of it is more beautiful than the miracles that happen when we step out and share a poem, or invite someone to get coffee. Social media isn't evil. Just like words, it's neither good nor bad. It's how you use it that determines its value. So why not use technology as a tool for deeper relationships instead of instant gratification?
Because, at the end of the day, quick pleasure is cheap pleasure. And instant gratification is nothing more than infatuation.