I wake up every morning with one challenging assumption: we live in a world where we are more powerful than we think. Sure, there are the delusional ones, who overestimate their influence. And the cocky ones, who feign their dominance. But most of us are sitting on weapons that we don't always know how to use: media.
I'm not just talking about "the news media" or digital media, categorically, although they are both forces to be reckoned with. I'm talking about all forms of media, whether painted on canvas, recorded on film or performed on stage.
Our power lies in the stories we tell and the ways we tell them. These stories define our history, culture and beliefs. In short, they create our reality.
Unfortunately, the media-saturated world we live in is not very empowering. It can be downright harmful. Or at least reckless. The content we consume is too often negative, sensationalist or meaningless. If we actually digested mainstream media the way we eat food, we would be over-weight and under-nourished.
Luckily, there are storytellers who are crafting healthy choices for us. There are filmmakers like Michael Collins of "Give Up Tomorrow," who are recognized for their investigations into social injustice, and others, like Ben Henretig of Micro-Documentaries, who inspire audiences to support specific causes. Artists like Gregg Deal get viewers to confront their stereotypes. And performers like Denasha Bullock of Move This World and Andres Marquez-Lara of Promethean Community help people feel more empathy through techniques borrowed from dance, theater and improv. These -- and countless others like them -- are the true new media creators.
And they do not work alone. Collaboration is key to sustaining any movement. That's why campaign-driven social impact films like Girl Rising succeed -- they are created through partnerships with Hollywood filmmakers, corporate marketers and nonprofit advocates, where the film is merely a means to a win-win-win ending for everyone involved.
Our challenge, though, is not only to create media that matters but also to consume it responsibly. We get our information from a flurry of channels, so fast-paced and interconnected that we can barely pinpoint the source. Whether it's television, radio, newspapers, books, billboards, video games, music, text messages or tweets, we have a responsibility to care about where our information is coming from and protect those who may be victims of misinformation. We need to find a way to prevent suicides from cyber-bullying as much as we would try to prevent homicides by assault rifles.
Three groups of people can support this mission:
Creatives. They are the poets, filmmakers, graphic designers, and yes, even those tweeters and Instagrammers, who have the power to shape our perspectives and reveal our desires.
Change agents. They are the social innovators, nonprofiteers, activists, advocates and government leaders, who have the power to mobilize supporters and influence decisions.
Moneymakers. They are the entrepreneurs, businesses, marketers and hustlers, who sell a vision of what our best lives could be.
If all of us worked together, what would it take for us to reach our highest levels of humanness through storytelling, art and design? How can we express our innate values like compassion and generosity by unleashing our creative potential?
Those are the questions I start my day with. Won't you rise with me?