One of my favorite things in my hometown of Okmulgee is the community garden. When I drive by, it reminds me of all the great successes an active community can achieve. In every aspect of community-building, tools are crucial for success.
Growing up in Okmulgee, I often tagged along to my mom’s service league events, which provided my first close-up view of community action. I remember then reading the Okmulgee Times at my grandparents’ house and seeing stories on these same events. It showed me the importance of local news outlets as a tool for building community, by telling stories that only someone who knows the community can.
Now I am starting my senior year at the University of Oklahoma. My time at OU has made my appreciation for local action and media even deeper. This spring, I was able to intern with House Minority Leader-elect Cyndi Munson (D-OKC). This is where I first heard of NonDoc. Editor in chief Tres Savage talked to my internship class at OU about the importance of responsible, local coverage.
I was instantly interested in the organization’s effort to keep Oklahomans informed and engaged. When I found out about the marketing internship, I knew I wanted to help further NonDoc’s engagement with Oklahomans of every political affiliation, age and location.
As a public-relations major, my studies have focused more on social media than on news media, but I am looking forward to bringing these two interests together.
Mindful practices go a long way
“Oh, I hate social media,” is the typical response I get after explaining what my major entails. I understand why people have such contempt. Social media platforms are often filled with divisive rumors or hurtful messages. The good news is we are in charge of our social media experience and how we use it. Like any tool, using social media properly is the key to it being beneficial. What does proper social media use look like, though?
Using social media in a beneficial way does not mean you only share positive news and ignore topics that are hard to talk about. It does mean evaluating what your goal on social media is and if you are working toward that. It is important to take a breath when using social media and take the time to research on your own. If you can recognize quality content and handle trolls responsibly, your ability to use social media to benefit yourself and others will improve greatly.
In my opinion, engaging with others in good faith is the number one rule when it comes to using social media to build community.
Our world is more interconnected than ever before, and taking this unique opportunity to be open with others can ultimately improve our lives. Does a community garden sound like a great opportunity for your town? Ask about it in a Facebook group and see if anyone would want to join your project. Do you want to see a debate between local candidates? Show the event has public support by starting an online discussion with other people in your area. Do you want to start an acting group for local youth? Post about it and ask friends to tag any parents that may be interested. You could bring stage acting back to a century-old theatre, as I once saw happen.
These unique opportunities for connection are why I am working with NonDoc this summer. NonDoc provides resources to help you become informed on issues in Oklahoma communities. Our social media pages can act as a forum for respectful public dialogue about what is best for our state. As the marketing intern for NonDoc, I want to do my part to provide you the resources needed to be the best community member you can be. I look forward to engaging with you all to build a stronger Oklahoma.
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