Success & Abundance
The Essence of Connection
Social media’s universal truth.
by Dave Carroll
Published: May 14, 2012
Shining a light on what we already share.
Dave Carroll, creator of one of YouTube's all-time most popular music videos, “United Breaks Guitars,” discusses how the power of one voice in the age of social media can awaken individuals and corporations all over the globe.
When you’re faced with a universal truth, there’s no confrontation or argument, because there is no other side to defend against. It’s something everyone can agree with, and a confrontation requires at least one opposing side. Combining catchy lyrics, upbeat music, and fun images made for a powerful communications tool, but the essence of connection in my message was universal in its appeal. That was the key!
“United Breaks Guitars” has been heralded as a classic David-and-Goliath story because United Airlines is a giant corporation and I’m just one customer who suffered a bad experience with them. In actuality, there hasn’t been any confrontation between us since the release of the video.
Although the experience may have been somewhat unpleasant for United, even they have reluctantly accepted the universal truth in my message. To their credit, they eventually apologized, offered compensation that exceeded what I had asked for in 2008, and have been pleasant in all my dealings with them since the video was released. The problem was that they offered those things only after I actually followed through on my promise and had a viral video on YouTube. By then it was too late.
United’s reaction supports this idea that the essence of “United Breaks Guitars” is a universal truth. For them to take a confrontational approach against me after the video’s release would have been to deny that I was clearly wronged, and that denial would have infuriated the public even further. The groundswell of negative opinion would have been far more damaging to their brand, because they’d be defending a side that no one else believed even existed. What would be the point in defending a weak position that would only hurt you more in the long run?
So, if it’s true that we all long for connections and good experiences, and the video allowed us to experience a universal truth, then maybe the real reason for its popularity was something other than the attraction of watching a fight.
Here’s where I think this gets really interesting. If you accept that people long to experience connections with others, the bigger question then becomes: Why do they long to do that? Could you say that things like my video actually form those connections? I don’t think so. I don’t believe that my video created bonds between people where none had existed before. The answer has to be bigger than that, and here is what I’ve come to understand.
We don’t just long for connection. I believe that all people are connected with each other as a natural state of being and that this bond doesn’t need to be fabricated. It already exists and always has. We are connected, and we long to feel more of that natural connection with each other.
This isn’t a new concept, and I certainly didn’t invent it. This idea is a fundamental principle in most major religions—as well as New Age thought—and now the nature of social media is proving it to us daily. Examples such as my video only serve to remind us of this undeniable fact.
You will often hear that Facebook, and social media in general, is thriving because it connects us with other people, but is that really true? A high school friendship that is reestablished via Facebook isn’t created on that platform—it is only experienced there if people choose to use it to reconnect for that purpose. In other words, that original friendship already existed, but Facebook is thriving because it allows us to experience our connectedness to other human beings in a meaningful way.
In the same sense, antique-car lovers don’t love old automobiles because they belong to a car club. They already love old cars, and they join these clubs because they can enjoy the experience even more when they are around other people who love them, too. Likewise, social media allows us to satisfy an urge to share our experiences with others and serves to allow us to experience what others wish to share with us. To say that Facebook is a source of our connection, I think, is wrong and misses the mark. Facebook and all the other social-media platforms simply let us experience our connectedness, and this subtle difference carries massive implications.
Excerpted from United Breaks Guitars by Dave Carroll. Copyright ©2012 (Hay House).
Dave Carroll is a singer-songwriter and social media innovator from Halifax, Canada. Following his 2009 YouTube music video release called United Breaks Guitars, about his poor customer service experience with United Airlines, Dave's career blossomed and he is now a highly-sought-after performer, content creator, author, keynote speaker and consumer advocate.