How Social Media Made Me Better... At Almost Anything Social media provides a parallel world where barriers are brought down through direct communication.

By Shoug Al Nafisi

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It started with coffee. The local coffeehouse I frequent every morning is literally alive with conversation- a vibrant exchange of ideas that never fails to capture my attention. I'd first developed an interest in idea-exchange when I began working with my local chapter of TEDx.

With time, it became more about the people behind those ideas; their perspectives, trains of thought, and communication mediums. I came to understand that my passion in providing a service through my profession was sourced from my passion for people. It was that passion that opened my eyes to the opportunity to take things further; and that's where social media came in to the picture. As a nutritionist, I look to social media to stay updated on research, guidelines, diet trends, and so on. I also have a great interest in emergency relief, and so I follow the latest news regarding the changing circumstances of people facing hardship around the world. And so, for starters, different platforms provided the space to document, inform, and engage in conversations with other likeminded health professionals, and international agencies.

But, let's talk perspective. Social media also provides a parallel world where barriers are brought down through direct communication. Agencies and brands are personified, with an image to uphold. Individual accounts are able to voice their concerns and ask questions, collaborate, and connect with corporate names, something that is less likely to happen in the physical world.

These interactive platforms are excellent for sharing ideas, testing communication techniques, and understanding those on the other end of a conversation. In my attempt to understand, I did interact, and sure enough, was able to channel the ideas I want to my targeted community. That being said, it came as no surprise that there is a lack of either social media presence or effectiveness in both the local and the MENA region's health sector. It's obvious that in the field of health, knowing the gravity of the topic, good communicators are scare- certainly one reason for this lapse in back and forth communication is that people skills are lacking on the side of the health professionals. One simple solution: get on social media and get connected to your audience directly.

It is here that I've found that individuality is valued. The way I see it, I'm a team player, and I enjoy good team chemistry. Let's say we're a team of seven billion, going in to trigger a conversation lights up a network and an exchange of more ideas- creating multiple encounters of life-enriching opportunities. Imagine doing that with every subject you find interesting and finding another hidden charm- that of unforeseen connections. I found artists to share my love for beautiful things, a marketing manager who inspires my positive outlook on life, and an editor looking for a writer- things that I didn't even know I was searching for. If anything, the people I have come to know through social media were probably just as intrigued as I was, and had taken up genuine interest in someone different, all because of tweets and posts shared and re-shared through an extended network.

I strongly believe that we can easily relate to people with similar interests or experiences, but social media makes that possible and more. What does the more entail? Connecting with those both inside your existing network and profession, and those that have a whole slew of unforeseen advantages and experiences to share.

Ultimately, we're not made to be one-dimensional, and ideally, being on the same team, implies bringing something to the table while empowering others to be the best they can be. Social media, when used correctly, does all this and more. It works for me.

Wavy Line
A nutritionist, and public health advocate, Shoug Al Nafisi has worked in domains that ranged between community nutrition, emergency relief, and social media. A humanitarian at heart, she works to promote her firm belief in the wellness of the human being as a powerful and productive entity within the community. As a writer, she has co-authored a scientific publication, and has many writings as a contributor and guest blogger covering topics such as wellness, productivity, and empowerment.

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