What My Toilet Taught Me About Social Media

Running Toilet

It happened to me recently.  A running toilet. A 200-dollar-water-bill-hear-it-all-night- running toilet.  It was bad… and certainly not at the top of my “can’t wait to tackle that” list. But now that the dust has settled and all the flappers are back flapping in their watery nests I realized that the toilet debacle taught me something wonderful and glorious about social media. Let me explain.

It’s Just a 5 Dollar Part!
I’m aware that toilet repair parts are very inexpensive compared to the repair parts of, say, laptop computers, HVAC systems or guided missile systems. But what’s really irksome is that a trip to the hardware store to pick up “that $5 toilet replacement part” actually costs about $350 in time/life/research costs.  And let’s not gloss over the fact that there are a bunch of toilet parts. There’s a toilet aisle. All the toilet replacement parts have esoteric and machine-shop-inspired names like “BlueSource HydroKit Toilet Repair with Dual Flush Converter” and the all-in-one systems looks robot torture devices or futuristic sci-fi weapons from the Avengers. Bottom line: When I go to pick up a replacement part, it had better be the right one.  With this burden hanging over me I trudged upstairs with the hope of identifying the problem potty part.

I needed total silence. Door closed. Phone off.

I heaved the ceramic tank lid off and peered into the other-worldly cavern of chaos within.  Where was that blasted running water coming from? No water on the ground. No drips. No action in the bowl itself. So what $5 plastic widget thing should I replace?  Now here’s the profound part of the story. I closed my eyes, got as close as humanly appropriate to the tank full of water and just listened. I could hear the water running. Like a faraway mountain brook weaving in between some majestic pines in a sun-flecked Colorado valley. But that Bambi-like feeling wasn’t enough. I needed to diagnose a part. I needed to know.  I began to move around the tank. Right side, left side, bottom, top, center.  I started to hear the trickle sound changing… farther away, then closer. Louder and tinnier, then quieter and more muted.  At last I opened my eyes and found myself staring at the culprit: The hydrosonic jiggly-bob tube portal connector whizbang. Finally!

I went to the hardware store, bought the dangly whizbang thing and now it all works.

Lesson: If I hadn’t spent the time listening to my toilet I never would have been able to diagnose where the problem actually was.  I would have bought the entire Pro Series Commercial Grade Replacement Kit when I only needed the $3.20 whizbang doohickey.  It took time and discipline to turn off the noise, get my hands a little dirty and actually stop and listen to come out with a success story like the one you’re now reading.  My toilet is now more quiet than a hibernating baby mouse inside Apple’s signal dampening iphone testing room.

If we want to use social media to change the world, sell a product, fix a problem or spread a message we’ve got to be willing to spend the time listening.  We’ve got to really tune in. We might need to shut a few doors or turn off a few phones.  In essence, we can realize success, connect with people and find opportunities… but we have to know where to look and for that, we have to make time to listen.

And now let the slightly off-color jokes and comments commence. Thanks for reading.

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ADG Creative is a strategic communications firm specializing in branding, interactive, learning and gaming, and software development. We combine process, experience and extraordinary creative talent to tell our customers' stories in unique, memorable and usually unexpected ways, leveraging both conventional and new media platforms.