By April M. Stewart, Special MWAF Contributor
We’re constantly bombarded by information. It’s hard to look away.
After all, we want to stay informed.
We’re afraid of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
And we’re excited about the incredible quantity and diversity of knowledge at our fingertips; we want to take advantage of those multiple perspectives to expand our own.
But we miss out on a lot by trying to focus on everything at once. What’s more is that we literally can’t focus on everything at once since a focus is the “central point… of attraction, attention, or activity”.
By scattering our attention all over we potentially miss out on the impact we could gain or give by concentrating more of our attention on one thing.
An old Japanese proverb says that “a hunter who takes aim at two prey at once will kill none”.
So, what is the point of all this philosophizing?
In an age of social media, we can easily forget about the exponential power of a one-on-one conversation. Without arguing the pros and cons of social media, I think we can all agree that social media allows us to 1) reach millions of people at the push of a button; and 2) it’s given narrative power to the “little” guys that only traditional media outlets used to enjoy.
But while we’ve technically exponentialized our reach, this doesn’t mean we’ve automatically exponentialized our impact.
Through social media we’re not necessarily choosing the object of our focus: we capture something – words, photos, videos – post it online, and myriad eyeballs help it live for the briefest moment as they scroll by. We might intrigue and possibly even influence a few, but have we amplified our impact? Have we generated enough intrigue and influence to make our message resonate and stick – or are we missing a key factor in the impact equation?
In person, we can connect on a brain to brain level. We can send and receive signals that are similar between humans in most parts of the world: the concerned tone of voice. The head cocked to one side, listening intently. The ups and downs of words and the deliberate gaps between them as we get excited about a topic or pause for effect. The facial cues and body movements that add an extra sensory and remarkable layer to a story.
Some agvocates have done exceedingly well on social media. Their audiences number in the thousands and they excel at presenting compelling stories and making emotional connections through digital mediums that are removed from any physical human contact and signals (body language, visual cues, voice tonality, etc.). But it’s more a rare than common talent and it takes a lot of time, planning and dedication.
But what about the rest of us, those who aren’t as technically inclined or who don’t have the time to tweet, snap or post throughout the day? Is there anything we can do to help advance the farm to consumer conversation?
You can find your “point of maximum leverage”, as Seth Godin says, “…aligning all of the forces you bring to bear on the process.”
Find common ground.
Make meaningful connections.
Leveraging the power that comes from connecting on a brain to brain level will boost your impact and catalyze your power to influence.
In an age of ‘so much’ we think next big thing, maximum eyeball attention, and virality without thinking about the other end of the scale. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Massive online outreach can and does have an effect, but so can daily, one-on-one conversations with those around you.
Social media can be useful, but it’s not the only tool we have to build up our agriculture industry: tune in to what makes people tick, what makes them care, what intrigues and resonates emotionally with them, and what drives them to action.
Your biggest impact could come from the smallest interaction.