I was never seduced by you. I was dragged towards you, hollering, kicking, protesting. I had never met you before my life switch to New York. Simply wasn’t interested. Not even a bit. But in New York the pace is relentless; a city where every cafe is an opportunity to bag your next gig and every meeting a networking moment. As a Black Brit who enjoys a good cuppa, one afternoon just people watching left me reeling from shock.
New York village, full of amazing artists, scholars and writers, finally virtually pinned me down forced me to face social media and I got onto Facebook. Unsure at first, I was like a colt, all unsteady legs, tripping up all over the place. I would check out other peoples’ pages and think – why? Why do I need to know what you’re eating for dinner? Then my global journalistic feet kicked in. I would make my page a space for conversation, discussion, debate – always respectful, often passionate, never ratchet.
My daily radio show was growing in popularity. Facebook was where I could upload really great interviews and introduce more people to the show’s content. I had begun an arts and conversation series called ‘Emotional Justice Unplugged’. Facebook was where I would find an audience for that work. The same was true for my plays – a new passion I had discovered once I landed Apple side. I posted global news content. In a land where all news is local, I missed reading global news – so I posted what I missed. Then, I wasn’t dating any more, I was committed. This would be a long term kinda thing. My Facebook friends grew and grew. My page was not personal; it was an expanded space of work. I was starting to have fun and amazing things began to happen.
The maximum Facebook friends is 5,000. I maxed out. I did an interview on CNN because of Facebook. I received invites to speak as both a panellist and a keynote speaker because of Facebook. I met contacts who would become friends via Facebook. I ended up travelling to other parts of America and was approached by cable news channel MSNBC and am now a regular commentator for MSNBC Live – because of Facebook.
Is there a downside? Facebook creates false intimacy. This notion that people know you beyond your posts is one that has occasionally given me pause for thought. But the good outweighs the questionable. Digital Women UK is one example. It is such a crucial tool to help creatives learn how to maximize the digital so it serves their creativity.
My global connections through Facebook have been simply fly. I’ve come across teenage friends in Egypt and kept contact with journalistic friends in Ghana. I have created content and conversation and built a sense of reputation through my posts. I created a working page ‘Emotional Justice by Esther Armah’ after maxing out my personal ‘Esther Armah’ page. Then came Twitter.
A colleague described the difference between the two thus: Twitter is a text, Facebook is an email. Perfect. Twitter took a minute. I use Twitter for my campaigns, my radio interviews and my Emotional Justice work. I’ve also learnt how to use Google+ Hangouts and now use all three as part of the creative campaigns I devise through my company Centric Productions.
The key is discipline. Make time. Do the work. Be committed. Put a ring on it. Send a tweet about it. Write a post about it and make sure each social media platform serves your vision, your profession, your passion. Go on – find your tweet spot.
About the author
Esther Armah is a London born, New York based writer, journalist, political commentator and playwright. She is a commentator for MSNBC, is a Huffington Post blogger and her fourth play SAVIOUR?goes to Chicago for an eight week run in March 2014, after a successful New York city debut. Esther devises creative campaigns and runs ‘Emotional Justice Unplugged’ – a multi media arts and conversation series via her Centric Productions company.