In a polarized world bombarded with negativity, people can choose connection over division.
That’s the message of RootsTech 2022’s #ChooseConnection theme and social media campaign for its global family history event March 3-5.
RootsTech 2022 kicked off Thursday morning, March 3, with an original song titled “Choose Connection” and accompanying music video.
FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood extended an invitation to all in his opening keynote address to reach out to people they know, including picking a person in their contact list and through a prompting in their head or heart.
“Reach out to that person and send him or her a text or give them a call or contact them on social media and bless their day today with simply a kind word or a simple ‘How are you?’” he invited.
He encouraged participants to push pause to send those messages as they connected to others.
“If we can’t change the world, perhaps we can certainly change our world by choosing connections,” he said.
‘Choose Connection’ social media campaign
Jonathan H. Wing, a RootsTech manager who oversees creative aspects and composed the song “Choose Connection,” said one motive behind the social media campaign is to show that connection is not all about the past.
“It’s about the present and the connections we make to one another. When we know how connected we are to each other, we treat each other differently,” Wing said.
The campaign is also about helping people recognize they have a choice, he continued. “We really wanted to hone in on the agency and the ability that people have to choose connection over division.”
RootsTech has partnered with content creators and social media influencers who will share videos about how they personally choose connection over division and invite their followers to join RootsTech, using #ChooseConnection.
Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch, added: “What’s great about it is we’re bringing that message to people wherever they are in the world, not necessarily making them come to us to engage in something.”
Church News podcast, Episode 71: RootsTech 2022 organizers on what it means to ‘Choose Connection’ in a divided world
‘Choose Connection’ song
Wing remembers sitting in a meeting with his creative team and discussing the idea of having a song for RootsTech. “That night, I sat down and just started writing lyrics,” he recalled.
“It was just all of these thoughts of ‘What does FamilySearch stand for?’ ‘What is this “Choose Connection” message that we want to share with the world?’ ‘How do we individualize it?’ ‘How do we share that from a point of view where an individual could really connect with that message?’”
As Wing sat at the piano, “the lyrics just came,” he said.
When Allen first heard the song, “I stood up out of my chair and just started dancing. … We knew right from the beginning that it was going to be something special,” she said.
Wing reached out to a producer, who sent him a demo track of a potential singer — Aaliyah Rose. The 19-year-old Latter-day Saint was a contestant on season 12 of NBC’s “The Voice.”
Wing said the moment he heard the track, he thought: “She’s the voice for this. She’s got it. She’s got the attitude and the vibe that I would associate with someone who’s sharing this message.”
Rose told the Church News that the lyrics of the song resonated with her. “‘Choosing Connection’ is being able to reach out to people and talking to people. You never know what you can learn from new people and new experiences. …
“You never know if you can make someone’s day and put a smile on someone’s face. That’s what connection means to me,” she said.
‘Choose Connection’ video
Later, while Wing was traveling to Brazil to record the Family Discovery Day presentation with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, Wing started thinking about the lyrics to the song.
Suddenly a scene came to mind of a 1950s hotel setting and a singer performing in front of a group of people who were distracted by newspaper headlines.
The concept for the “Choose Connection” music video was born.
In the video, people are caught up in the news and missing opportunities to connect with those around them. Short vignettes show individual characters experiencing what Wing described as “an awakening moment” in which they pull out of the distraction and start listening to the message of the song.
“Then it gets to this point where, all of a sudden, this world that starts off black and white turns into this world of color, and people are just rallying around this message, connecting and having the time of their lives,” Wing said.
Wing said he hopes people see that “when we choose to connect, that’s when color can come into our lives. That’s when life can come back into our lives.”
Allen, a former ballroom dancer, was the choreographer for the video, which features ballroom dancers from Brigham Young University.
“I’m not a master choreographer,” Allen said, “but we could just feel the magic as we put the music together with this kind of movement and different ways in which we could tell that story. It was a fun process.”