The Impact of Social Media on Living Organ Donation [Guest Blog for WELD]

Guest Blog For WELD (Women Encouraging Living Donation)
www.weld.org

 
 

Social Media is one of the most powerful tools our society has seen come to fruition over the last decade. It’s become a way to reach a mass audience with one click of a button, and provides a chance to connect with people around the world that we previously did not have access to. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, it is bringing light and attention to current events, personal stories, and radical movements.

I got into this business 9 years ago, and I stand by its impact. But first, a little bit on how I got here. My life has been defined by action. Sports, dance, hiking, gymnastics, you name it – I couldn’t sit still. With action comes health. Growing up active has helped me understand the necessary wellness measures needed to feel good. Aside from physical action, comes mental and emotional vigor. I began focusing on self-awareness and creating a life that defines me. Not only was my body strong, but I noticed how sound it made my mind. Group activities have also introduced me to my innate high levels of empathy. As an only child, the energy I possessed and love I had was channeled into being social, and showing friends, family, and strangers the kindness they deserved. This was my personal foundation.

Fast forward to May 2009, and it was time for me to graduate from college. Majoring in Communications Media and Business; I knew my passion for entrepreneurship, creative ideas, and unconditional understanding of people would land me into a career where I would help others in some way.

After a summer of fun, at age 22 I started my Social Media Marketing business: Ant Colony Marketing (www.antcolonymarketing.com), with the purpose of helping musicians and personal brands find success in a new evolving market.  It was an exciting time to be learning a new internet idea of presenting one’s self and brand through a media platform designed for staying connected.

After nine years and a list of multifaceted self-taught services, I met Diane Brockington, the founder of WELD. In all nine years, it was my first opportunity to work with a non-profit, and a smart and like-minded female leader!  Before working with WELD, I wore the “donor” badge on my license proudly, but that was the extent of my knowledge on organ donation. Becoming a part of WELD has not only been my job, but has now become a passion. Through WELD, I’ve met a group of the kindest and most cheerful women who have donated or received, and who are eager to share their stories. This is where Social Media makes its deepest impact. WELD is continuously adding personalization around the generally passive and sensitive subject of Living Organ Donation.

Mass media campaigns can work through direct and indirect pathways to change the opinion and behavior of a whole population, helping people adopt a strengthened understanding of intentions and social norms.  Think of tobacco campaigns helping expose the health risks and lowering the amount of smokers. Or the positive messages surrounding Planned Parenthood and contraceptives that have proven lowered numbers of teen pregnancy. The magnitude is undeniable. Negative opinions of Social Media aside, it has helped people get more comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics. Maybe more sensitivity is good, because it often leads to compassion.

The Earth is wired for story, and a more educated and positive message can prevent negative results; or at least encourage change for good.  At 31, I am dedicated to staying active, keeping a healthy mind/body, and practicing a life of unconditional kindness.  Who knows what the next 10 years will bring, or which family member or friend may need a donation, but I pledge that after 41, I will enter the process of being a living donor.  WELD has had that impact, their social media has had that impact, and the support that these women (and men) show to their group has had that impact.

Reinforcing public discussion about living donation can influence the decision without persuading. These ladies are traveling the world, walking miles to support a great cause, and enjoying life with good food, good wine, and good company. The list for donors needed is long, but the reasons for giving someone new opportunities at life are…endless.

 
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Jessica Ricciuti

San Diego, CA 92107, United States