A lovely little meme has popped up as we enter November, the month of thanks and giving. It may be little irony that it has happened in the wake of some tragic weather events across the world, not the least of which is Hurricane Sandy which hit both of my home towns (NYC and VA/OBX).

The FIVE DAILY GRATITUDES seems to have a few origins but has taken off with people posting a status update on Facebook every day in November with 5 things they are thankful for. I noticed a few of my friends start this up the other day some with very earnest and heartfelt bullet points, others getting a little cheeky (my fuzzy slippers, my red lipstick).

I think this is a lovely idea and certainly will help us become reflective and appreciative for our abundant first world lives…but yet again I fear we will fall into social media laze.

The sense of doing good we get from posting things we are thankful for could be a bit too passive. While yes it is illuminating and certainly more meaningful than posting about Taylor Swift or what pasta you ate for dinner, it still is just a few pixels of  light.

I wonder what would happen if, in addition to or instead of these daily posts, we reached out to 5 friends we haven’t spoken to in years? Perhaps give 5 things away from our closets or cupboards? Maybe give $5 away to a worthy charity or write 5 letters to shut-ins, veterans or those still serving? Give love to 5 dogs at the pound? Spend 5 minutes saying thank you to folks in real life, like the cashier at the grocery store? Maybe spend 5 minutes in a neighborhood that is unfamiliar or scary to you to see how the other half lives? Perhaps volunteer at 5 different places in November?

You see I am constantly troubled by how our virtual lives give us a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that may in fact be keeping us from genuine, tangible, physical action and love.

This is a hard conundrum for someone in social media and a few folks (more than a few) get this right. (I’m looking at you @HardlyNormal, @Kanter, @PeterShankman)

I’m thankful for social media and the ease of connectivity in times of emergency. For the ability to reach out when I am down and immediately have friends, fans and followers share an encouraging word. For the instant satisfaction of a sad or uplifting or cathartic video.

Just please let’s not forget that there’s a world beyond our smartphones and laptops and that we are not our avatars…

Two THANK YOU videos today for you, one that will get stuck in your ear, another in your heart:

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