As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw a shared picture. Like many I have seen before, it was of a teacher holding up a sign that asked for people to like and share their picture so their students would understand the power of social media. This one was slightly different though, it also said “so they can understand that we all have the power to change the world”. Do we though? Does liking and sharing a post on social media allow us to change the world…….well, it could…..if people were actually paying attention.
Like many of you, I have seen these types of posts for years. Almost all of them have traveled the globe with thousands of likes attached. Never have I seen them with a message other than the initial like and share request. It is easy for someone to hit that share button, but what if there was a message attached? Would they read it?
I have been writing this blog about parenting my child with a bipolar diagnosis for over a year now. I started it to try to make a difference in society regarding mental health. I would love to end the stigma that surrounds people with a mental health diagnosis and their families. I would love to educate those who don’t understand our lives. I have found that my blog is not quite doing what I intended it to.
I have a small, loyal group of readers. Most of them understand this life and it helps to know they are not alone. I am proud that I have reached some people who truly appreciate what I am trying to do here….but I wish I could reach more. I wish I could break through to the teachers who have treated my son like he was more trouble than he was worth. I wish I could break through to the health care workers that sat in their seats and whispered (loudly) about how horrible a parent I was because my son was having a meltdown. I wish I could break through to the neighbor who doesn’t allow my son on his lawn because he feels that his mental health diagnosis is a threat. The challenge is that I can’t break through those walls if the only people reading this blog are those in the know. There is a saying I have heard many times within NAMI support groups, “You can’t know what you haven’t been told”. Well, I am going to add “People can’t hear you if they don’t know to listen”.
I an effort see if I can get more people to listen….and to see if we can really change the world with social media…..I have decided to do a little experiment. Facebook has changed the way this blog posts in recent months. People used to click on the picture I connected with my blog and it would immediately open the post. Now, it simply opens the picture with a link to the post. I am putting a picture with this blog, much like those of the many teachers that are trying to get 100,000 likes. If it is shared and liked, the blog link will be attached. We will see if more people read because we are shared via picture on social media. We will see if people can see beyond the picture. We will see if we can change the world and end the stigma, one like at a time.
If you are a new person reading this blog post due to clicking on the link…..BRAVO!!! You are the type of person that just might help us change the world. Please aid us in educating society so we can erase the stigma of mental illness.
*NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness – for more information or to find a support group in your area go to: http://nami.org/