There’s a difference between doing good and doing well, beyond the grammatical elements of each phrase. Doing well indicates progress. Hidden somewhere in doing well is reaching goals. Seemingly important, yes? Yet I am enamored of doing good. Doing good is hardly quantifiable, yet wholly satisfying. Doing good is what humans do.


Today, in following the tweets from the annual CASE Social Media and Community conference (my first conference back in 2011 and my first exposure to the ideas beyond my computer, my office, and my campus), there were many gems that prompted greater consideration from me back at my desk rather than my past experiences in tracking the hashtag in mid-April, in a room electric, filled with community energy. This is a conference that always encourages me to think bigger, but not being in the same physical space (rather, virtual) made for a completely different experience. It made me think more, as I was filling in the blanks and drawing my own conclusions from what I was reading rather that the combination of listening, reading, and interpreting I usually experience while in attendance.

You may look at this phenomenon and say that my multitasking is abhorrent; that there is no way that everything that’s happening around me is getting into my head. I confess, I don’t catch everything, but it is the situation itself that encourages my brain to expand. The energy that I put into this kind of focused thought might not indicate that I’m doing well in this situation, but I am, in fact, doing good for how I operate and begin to understand and apply new things.

I’ve spent much of the past few months holed up in my mind, wondering where and how we define success when we embark into the world of social media. In trying to define all of it (not just success) I’ve nuanced my language when talking about my work — social instead of social media; to be social is to be aligned, not in line; etc.— in an attempt to more clearly talk about why positions like mine even exist. I don’t exist to post on social networks. I exist to think about our audiences: where they are, what they want, how and when they want it, why they want what they want. Posting is a minute fraction of my time. My time is mostly spent immersed in the world so that I can understand, organize, translate, convey, and converse about it. In essence, my job is that physical/virtual space where I constant struggle with the hope of doing well and allure of doing good

The thing about my job is that it’s brand new every day; it’s ever-changing and the only way to keep up is to keep on. More and more, my job is that of aligning myself better within my organization, because my job can not and will not ever be just me. Every day is an attempt to undulate ourselves a fraction of an inch. It is about the movement, not to where we move. To see where we are (rather than I). To see what’s around us (rather than me). To see where we fit into the absolutely endless world that we share (rather than just mine).

A particular quote I heard a few weeks ago reemerged again today in the Twitter backchannel: social media is free only if your time is worthless (a personal favorite spin-off of this quote is “Social media is free, like a puppy”). When asked to justify my job’s existence — my ROI, if you will — I cannot place a number on it. It’s not my existence we need to justify. It’s the existence that these social spaces are occupied and that our audiences are present that is justification enough.

We are humans. We flock. We are ever-moving — perhaps forward, perhaps backwards, usually the same place most of the time — toward making something complete that will never be accomplished, that will be picked up by others and moved along after we’re done with it. Our lives are process, not product. So for each day, I only know that I can try and do good. Doing well will be in the eyes of the beholder.