Johnson: Your social media posts affect economic growth January 10, 2020BlogCommunications Department The following is from BIZ. Magazine. Change within our community looks different for every person, just as being a catalyst for that change can be a unique calling for everyone. Some choose to spend their time volunteering for causes they feel worthwhile to make their community better. Others have the ability to affect change with their pocketbooks and willingly open them for the betterment of our region. Some run for elected offices to have power and influence over decisions. Still, others might work within the community by utilizing their resources, talents, knowledge, or connections. Maybe as you are reading this, you don’t seen yourself in any of those avenues for making a difference in this community. Keep reading, because I have one idea that EVERYONE could and should be doing to affect change in Bossier, Caddo, Northwest Louisiana and the state as a whole: Speak positively. If that seems simple, perhaps too simple, of an approach to be worthy of your time or energy, then I’m exactly talking to YOU! It seems easier these days – both locally, statewide, and nationally – to be a naysayer. Somehow our society has turned into this bandwagon for negativity and people are jumping on in droves. What did your momma always teach you (or at least this is what my momma taught me)? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Well, I’m going to implore you to use this technique about 90% of the time. Especially on social media. Why? Because it actually DOES MATTER. As businesses look to move and relocate, they absolutely do online research. Obviously they look at things like tax credits, available land, utility costs, proximity to infrastructure needs, etc. But, they also look at the available workforce and the quality of life. We have some great training opportunities within our region to bolster our workforce, even if the skilled labor isn’t currently here. And, we have good weather, lots of recreational activities, and good proximity to larger cities while being tucked away with less of the traffic and other headaches that come with a large city. But what about the people? Do they like to live there? If all the company sees is people wanting to leave, trash talking the city and being generally disgruntled, then why would they want to come there? They don’t want to live somewhere the residents don’t even like. They don’t want to recruit employees to a place that has a negative site of mind. Consider this scenario: Your business has just given you a promotion opportunity to move from one part of the country to Northwest Louisiana. You’re keen to get that promotion and, frankly, a little tired of your cold weather climate. But, you want to make sure this is a place you could live. What’s the first thing you do to research the area? You get on Google or Facebook. And if you find the RESIDENTS of the community you are thinking of moving to only speaking negatively about where they live, would you want to move there? I think the answer is no. You have a power you probably don’t even realize you have. YOU are an expert on the town or city in which you live, as well as the parish, the region, and the state. Why? Because you live there. And, that means that when you say something about where you live, people believe it, generally, to be true. Particularly if they do not live there. You have power just by the words you choose to speak publicly or the thoughts you choose to give credence to — this includes memes, photos and videos, not just negative words. So, what will you do with that power? Make them count. Be the change you want to see in the world or, even better, say what kind of world you want to live in. Then get other people to say it, and let’s all work to make the world the version we want it to be. It only takes one match to start a fire and that fire can spread quickly. Does this mean you can’t ever hold elected officials or organizations or businesses accountable? Absolutely not. It means taking any problems directly to the source instead of airing your dirty laundry on social media. Being negative on social media isn’t affecting change, it’s giving more power to negative behaviors and combating negative with negative. Going to the source to seek an actual solution is demanding change. You could be hindering economic growth with your social media posts. And, the rate at which you share, comment or like any negative posts about our area as well. And without the economic growth, how can our area ever grow to improve available jobs and, in turn, quality of life? Did you know you have that power? What else could you do with it? I challenge you to illuminate the positive because it can change your own disposition when you find positive things to talk about. You won’t hate where you live and your situation as much, meaning you’ll be a more pleasant person around town. You’ll notice your new state of mind has you dealing with problems in a much more positive way. You’ll notice new opportunities. You’ll get your friends and followers thinking about those things they like as well. You could shed some light on something a fellow resident didn’t even know about or think about. So, what will you shine a positive light on in 2020? Let’s illuminate our positives to make the vision for this region clear.