Extensive research has found that there are 5 significant elements that have been proven to enhance a positive and sustainable ‘recovery’ journey and promote wellbeing. I touched on these in a previous blog.
One of the recognised and possibly the most significant in my own experience is the power of social networks and social capital. For some time now the importance of social networks has been confirmed to have a positive and empowering impact on our daily life. That power of connection takes away the isolation and loneliness, that can be so detrimental to an individual, and has a positive impact on their personal development and growth. This in turn would enhance self esteem, self worth and intra-personal skills.
One element of social capital is feeling connected in any way shape or form that effectively takes you ‘out of your mind’ but it is imperative that you find a balance between virtual reality and reality and always keep yourself active. knowledge is only power if there is action to follow to initiate the desired change that it set out to achieve. Otherwise it will become stagnant and powerless.
As with any subject there are pros and cons as to what is considered by many to be the changing face of a social revolution. There are millions of billions of people every day who share and exchange thoughts, opinions, images, emotions, ideas, and any other information that they have a desire to share. This tool that has become part of so many peoples daily lives has also of late become a tool for debate, bringing specific groups together with a unified voice, campaigning and raising awareness of current and historic issues.
Whatever your idea of social media and social networking sites, it has to be said that they have given us a platform to become part of an ever growing community of like-minded individuals and have become a hotbed for information gathering and sharing.
A social networking service is an online platform that enhances the ability to build positive social networks and social relations between individuals who share a common interest. It enables an environment where information, activities and progress can be shared as a foundation for implementing action within communities of like-minded people.
Social media can be an asset to any movement in it’s capability to bring diversity and understanding to otherwise geographically challenged groups who are all trying to achieve the same goals. It can be used to raise awareness around events, ideas, best practice, worst practice. It can be used to gather information via word of mouth, surveys, general discussion and open forums, raising debate on current issues and formulating a more comprehensive overview of any given topic.
Wikipedia definition of a social network
is: A social structure made up of a set of actors (such as individuals or organizations) and the dyadic
ties between these actors. The social network perspective provides a clear way of analysing the structure of whole social entities. The study of these structures uses social network analysis to identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine network dynamics. Aiding the use of asset based development within whole communities and promoting the positive aspects of growth within those communities. A social network is a theoretical construct useful in the social sciences to study relationships between individuals, groups, organizations, or even entire societies (social units). The term is used to describe a social structure determined by such interactions. The ties through which any given social unit connects represent the convergence of the various social contacts of that unit.
•Dyadic level: A dyad is a social relationship between two individuals. Network research on dyads may concentrate on structure of the relationship (e.g. multiplexity, strength), social equality, and tendencies toward reciprocity/mutuality. This could also expand to cover the interactions between two individual groups such as harm reduction and abstinence based recovery. Reasearch of this type could be used to find a mutual starting block, focusing on the strengths and assets within both groups, where both can work alongside each other in an integrated system to promote social equality, or, could be used by fundamentalists to dreate a divide between the two)
•Triadic level: Add one individual to a dyad, and you have a triad. Research at this level may concentrate on factors such as balance and transitivity, as well as social equality and tendencies toward reciprocity/mutuality. Another way of looking at this is to throw in a third party, in effect, an overseer, who would collate all relevant information raised in debates and discussions between the two initial groups. This information would then be documented and returned to the original two groups for feedback and further debate until such times as an effective and agreed foundation, with which to move forward was reached, which promoted the best interests of all those involved. Promoting equality and diversity through an integrated system. Ideally.
•Actor level: The smallest unit of analysis in a social network is an individual in their social setting, i.e., an “actor” or “ego”. Eg: network analysis focuses on network characteristics such as size, relationship strength, density, centrality, prestige and roles such as isolates, liaisons, and bridges, Such analyses, are most commonly used in the fields of psychology or social psychology, ethnographic kinship analysis or other genealogical studies of relationships between individuals. In this respect there will always be specific individuals who have the capability to find the middle ground or promote a way forward that others will follow. This two can be monitored and analysed through the power of social media and utilised in a more powerful and productive way using the platform already in place via social networks and the world wideweb.
•Subset level: Subset levels of network research problems begin at the micro-level, but may crossover into the meso-level of analysis. Subset level research may focus on distance and reachability, cliques, cohesive subgroups, or other group action, group actions or behaviour. Everything has a beginning and this is known as the micro level. Where general ideas are thrown about to provoke a response. In the beginning of any movement there is uncertainty. At this level ideas are debated and discussed and ways forward become apparent as more individuals or groups join in. In this stage an idea may either be pushed to the side or begin to gather momentum. Going through all of the above stages and eventually becoming a meso level, or hot topic for discussion. From this level ideas can then become realities, which having been through the various stages of ‘growth’ and fed by feedback from a diverse group of social medialites, both negative and positive, have the potential to initiate change. Which by all accounts in the ideal world would be based on the voices of millions rather than the opinions of the few.