This morning I was in the place where you will usually find me on a Friday – at the “Social Media Cafe” at LCiL, West End Centre, Andrewes St, Leicester.
Before you think that a “Social Media Cafe” is a group of humans on Twitter, Facebook, etc, who don’t connect in the real world – please read on.
In this case the “Social Media” element is explained by the fact that there are a wide variety of humans (both Disabled and able-bodied) who actually talk to each other about all kinds of things.
It is a safe space for people to discuss the challenges we face and ask questions which we might not dare to ask people if we saw them in the street.
For example, today I learned about why one of my friends is so comfortable about referring to himself as “black” (which he is) when others might not be so “loud and proud” about it – some of the ways he does it just make me smile in a good way – even though I was shocked when I first read some of his statuses on Facebook on that subject.
Two more of my friends had a very informative discussion about the portrayal of Mental Health in a “Panorama” programme – these two men are some of the most harmless and non-threatening humans I have ever met. Yet – according to the “Panorama” programme (apparently) I should avoid them like the plague because they have Mental Health issues and at least one of them takes the same medication as mentioned in the programme. I hope you don’t mind if I trust my own judgement more than that of a “documentary”???
I may not have very much in common with the other people who go to the Social Media Cafe but I love learning about things – and that is the best environment to learn about Mental Health, how certain people face challenges in their lives, etc, in a non-threatening place.
I have blogged before about the “Human Library Book” concept and – to me – a well-run Social Media Cafe is the perfect example of a “Human Library” where you can share experiences over a cup of tea or coffee.
Not only that but I always come away feeling more cheerful about life than when I went in.
If you ask me – everywhere needs a Social Media Cafe so that different people who might not otherwise meet get the chance to learn about each other.