Tuesday, April 21

The Magic of Social Media.

A few years back my husband and I went camping at Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary's County, Maryland. If you have never been to Point Lookout I strongly recommend going. It is like stepping back in time. Right there between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River is a treasure of a place.

(Photograph taken by Joseph C. Nowak)

A place where the grocery store closes by 6PM and everybody knows your name. A place where neighbors look out for one another. It is in Point Lookout that I encountered the true magic of Social Media. Trust.

Our first morning in Point Lookout we woke early to run into town and pick up some produce for our stay. While driving through the sleepy town we came across a roadside stand. You know the kind. The kind of roadside stand where you will find the sweetest corn you have ever had and the juiciest tomatoes. Along with the nicest old man with sun scorched skin from working the fields for hours on end. He is no doubt standing there with his plump grandson by his side. There was something off; however at this stand. At least, it felt off to me initially.

(Note: This is not a picture of the roadside stand from Point Lookout.)

The produce was carefully put out on display. Each row of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, plums, and apples were clearly labeled with the prices. But there was no one there. No old man. No grandson. Nobody to watch over the stand or take money from the customers. No one even to deter a morally inept individual from taking their fill of tomatoes without leaving a dime. Instead, at the end of the stand was a hand painted sign. The sign was made out of plywood painted white with black lettering. In front of that sign was a small metal water pale with a few dollars inside. The scrawl on the sign read "We work on the honor system".

As a urban dweller this was unheard of. My initial reaction was to laugh at the naive belief that there will still honorable people. Then I remember where I was. I was in the southernmost point of St. Mary's County, in a community where each member was there for the next. In a place, where honor and trust are worn like a membership badge.

Social Media may be a newer concept to some. However, the only thing truly new about it is the tactics for delivery, the Media portion. The social part has been around as long as time. When participating in Social Media, it is imperative that you recognize you are interacting in a community. A community just like the southernmost part of St. Mary's County, Point Lookout. A community that demands trust. A community that will call you out if you don't honor it.

Once I had gotten over my initial "urban dweller" reaction. I was able to realize, it was a magical thing to be able to feel the trust in the community. I was just a visitor to Point Lookout, but I felt a sense of responsibility for the town and its people, just as if I had lived there all my life. Looking back on it I wish I had taken a picture of that stand. I hope it is still there, with the same sign.

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