Assail! Lie! Smear! Attack! Spin! What Would Jimmy Do With Social Media?

social-media-politics-POTUS-accountabilityThe Problem

Social media has been a strange place since the POTUS election. Have you noticed anyone online —

  • Attack a Facebook “friend” or family member over politics?
  • Post a meme, image, or video just to discredit others’ views?
  • Robotically spew biased political party “talking points” rather than engage in calm, reasoned, fact-based dialogue?
  • Pontificate and sermonize instead of asking questions to seek greater understanding?
  • Express ginormous outrage and concern on the behalf of strangers living halfway around the world when there are people in need in our own backyard?

There is no political message in that last question, so please don’t take umbrage. I’m simply baffled by the substantial time and emotional energy expended on social media that could be used differently.

Yes, like you, QBQ, Inc. and the Miller clan believe in compassion. However, is it possible there are people a mile from me who would be greatly blessed if they received just a slice of the concern for humankind expressed on Facebook and Twitter?

Let’s turn to coach, pastor, and politician Jimmy Miller—a man who never touched a computer or smartphone in his life—for a possible answer …

The Man (1921-2002)

In our 1960 photo, my father, Erie James (Jimmy) Miller, Jr., is on the right. In bed is Carlton Orr, one of my dad’s wrestlers at Cornell University. The summer after Carlton’s freshman year—when I was in diapers—polio struck.

Paralyzed from the neck down, doctors gave Carlton five years. He lived until the Fall of 1979, my senior year at Cornell.

Throughout my childhood, Dad would say, “Come on, let’s go see Carlton!” and we’d make the short drive into downtown Ithaca, NY.

We did that a lot.

The Impact

The amount of time coach Jimmy dedicated to Carlton was staggering. He cared for his wrestlers at Cornell like they were his sons. Peter Woodworth of Winona, MN, one of coach Jimmy’s “boys” in the 1960s, told me decades later, “Your dad and my Marine sergeant were the two most important mentors in my life.”

Beyond Cornell, pastor Jimmy cared for congregants and community members so much I sometimes ponder if this Bible passage was written about him:

“I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

My father routinely visited “nursing homes,” hospitals, county jails, and “shut-ins” to bring his positive personality to those who needed joy—badly. Even now, when I return to Ithaca, people say, “I miss your dad’s smile.”

Later, when he was elderly, he’d appear at a long-term care center in town to play piano for the “old folks.” 🙂

Jimmy Miller wasn’t perfect—but he was special. Without knowing it, he set an example for each of us living in this age of politically-charged social media. In all he did, there was no political agenda. Though a conservative thinker and elected Republican “County Representative,” he served people for one reason:

Caring for people is the right thing to do.

The Alternative to the Social Media Show

Instead of debating which political party shows the most compassion or who is right about this or that, might it be better to turn off our tech toys and invest our time, talent, and treasure into a Carlton in our local community?

I’m thinking this would add far more value to the world than sending out one more “gotcha” post or engaging in yet another completely un-winnable Internet-based, mud-slinging, angry argument.

Do you agree? I know my dad would. Call me biased, but that’d be good enough for me.

So, answering the question in this blog’s title, “What would Jimmy do with media?”—he wouldn’t have the time. My dad would be too busy caring for Carltons.

Comments welcome!

More about Jimmy here.

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42 Responses

  1. Completely agree. I say pay it forward. Read a book many years ago, and something along this statement resonated and stuck..
    When you live and do things without an attachment for a specific expectation or outcome, your never disappointed.
    That to me is a win-win ..
    ..love your newsletters!

  2. WOW! Excellent message. I just finished an experiment with Facebook by removing it from my phone and iPad so I can’t waste time with all of the negativity. I miss a lot of things (connecting with out of state friends and family) so I don’t think I will give it up completely but I feel so much better by not digesting all of that hate and animosity every time I have a spare moment. It has also helped me engage better with my family instead of being nose down in my phone.

    Thank you for this and everything you share. It’s all the basics but I need the constant reminder! I hope to be a QBQ life-r and instill the same qualities in my kids!

  3. Great article. About a year ago I made the decision to remove myself from Facebook. Yes. social media has it’s place but how many lonely people are there in America who don’t have a cell phone, computer, or any type of access to social media and they just need to know that someone cares. Thanks for the article

  4. This is perfect! I have felt off-centered and as I was driving to work this morning, I felt like I needed to have some time for self-reflection. I feel burned out and discouraged this week. Thanks for reminding me of what is REALLY important in our society. It’s like a breath of fresh air just hit me! God Bless John and the Miller clan and staff at QBQ! Thanks for all you do everyday!

  5. John, I have fond memories of growing up and hanging with the “Jimmy Millers.”…….dad and I talk a lot about the Danby days and how much fun they were….I often wonder how we all survived …. Your dad’s positive outlook and caring personality was always evident …. and lives on today in all those he touched .

  6. This: “Instead of debating which political party shows the most compassion or who is right about this or that, might it be better to turn off our tech toys and invest our time, talent, and treasure into a Carlton in our local community?” AMEN!!!!

  7. You are so right! As I was perusing FB recently, I noticed a post of Madonna going on about how oppressed she is; next a video of Ashley Judd screaming the same into a microphone. Next, a post from Rotary International showing two women in full burkas, in a dry land (likely very hot), under the watchful eye of their male escort, administering polio drops to some children. Which set of women is oppressed? Which set of women is working hard to do good in the world? Let’s celebrate the people who are doing good in spite of their circumstances and intentionally ignore the spoiled brats.

  8. This is just what I needed to read this morning! We all need to be a little busier caring for Carltons! Thanks John!

  9. John AMEN to what you said. I detest all of this political noise, can’t even watch a sports, can’t even watch a sport without it.

    Right on. Glad you put those thoughts in writing.

    Ed

  10. Thank you! I have “unfollowed” so many people because of their rants and hate. It’s getting out of control. Just yesterday there was a news report about how people working in the US Government are purposefully working against our President. People have made up their minds regardless and it’s a shame. No one will win in this situation – no one. Thank you, John, for such great words of wisdom.

  11. Your dad gave you a good model to follow and illustrated his belief in it all of his days. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. A great blog, John; however, there are two problems with it: 1) those who most need to read it won’t and 2) some who do read it will stop when they learn Jimmy’s political affiliation (this one, by the way, goes either way). Nonetheless, given that it’s here to stay, the social media phenomenon represents the best way by far to influence large numbers of people. After all, it has served to elicit tons of negativity. Perhaps it could be turned around to inculcate larger numbers with Jimmy’s values. The way to do that, John, is to keep on blogging!

  13. Just unfollowed about a dozen people last night- some of them close family members and friends whose posts were causing me serious stress because they are so vile! I know these people are not normally like this. Can’t have it in my life any more. There’s too much to do that actually helps others in need. Thank you for your post, John! So timely!

  14. Thank you for this post, John. As you described Jimmy, you were also describing my father “Ronnie” who felt that Jimmy was his best friend. They were surely cast in the same mold. Your Dad was my Dad’s wrestling partner at Ithaca High, and your grandfather instilled in both of them a lot of the good values you mentioned. My Dad went on to become a country doctor, and as a child, I watched him treat patients in their Appalachian homes for whatever they could offer: bread, wood, meat, cash… Dad never overcharged, and we were materially poor growing up, but spiritually wealthy with lots of friends. As with Jimmy, Ronnie dropped his personal projects to help those in need. He would not have had time for social media either. Virtual reality cannot compare with incarnational reality. Let’s cultivate “real connections,” not just “online ones.”

  15. As often happens, your comments resonate deeply with me. People get things done, not technology. I have detoxed from FB and things I don’t need to know about and feel all the better for it!
    Focussing on the people you care about and who are around you helps spread that little bit of joy further but closer to home. Noone can know how much of an impact they have just by being fully present in their world.
    Thank you for the great stories, keep them coming!

  16. Boom! Thanks John – also, really appreciate the Jimmy Miller Story – never met your Dad, and yet on so many levels I really have. What a treasure, what a gift!

  17. “Express ginormous outrage and concern on the behalf of strangers living halfway around the world when there are people in need in our own backyard?”

    Are the two mutually exclusive? Can we not care about those in need in our own backyard AND those strangers living halfway around the world? Your statement implies caring for a stranger far away is at the expense of someone near. I think it’s ok to care for both.

    1. Maybe, Jane – if we’re not wasting/using hours and hours on the web expressing “online outrage” when we could be serving someone locally. Plus, I just think expressing political anger over the Internet is not healthy, nobody changes anyone’s mind, that’s for sure! Be well1 🙂

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