Online games and communities have long been the realm of loners, losers and nerds. Today, they have evolved into large groups of people doing good for themselves and the world around them. So often, people see only the bad side of the online world, the places when people are hurt, things are stolen and lives are ruined. But, so many good things can happen online. The world online has one major benefit: the negation of the physical. You can do and say anything in the online world, and more importantly, you can be anything in the online world. You don’t need to be able to walk to run a marathon. You don’t need to be able to stand unassisted to dance. You don’t have to look perfect to be the most beautiful person in the room. The online world allows those who struggle to find their place in the physical world to belong to a community online.
In our class on Thursday, Donna Davis, director of the University of Oregon’s Strategic Communications Mater’s, discussed with us the benefits of the online communities found in Second Life for those struggling with Parkinson’s. She also briefly discussed the benefits of sites like Second Life for people with PTSD or phobias. The idea these types of behavior have with each other is that they remove the physical from the equation. For so many people, the physical world has barriers to happiness and acceptance.
But, what does this even have to do with social media? This shows the importance of having social media and an online presence. This online presence allows customers to reach you in a way that they are still comfortable with. Comfortable customers are happy customers, and happy customers come back. Having an online presence may seem like an added hassle that won’t benefit your business in a real way, but as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time of time scripting phone calls before they actually happen (even calls to the pizza place) I can tell you that being online is worth it. Having that place where your customers can find you without having to talk to a physical human, even with a phone line in between, can be the difference between a customer and a loss.