It’s not too often that I take taxis around Chicago. They are over-priced and oftentimes smell like a diaper in need of changing.
I’m also convinced that every taxi driver in the world knows and takes the longest possible route from point A to point B. It’s just irritating overall, honestly.
After a long day of teaching, attending class and phone calls, I decided to take a taxi, rather than my normal train ride home.
I was right- it smelled like a diaper, but that’s not the point with which i’m trying to get.
About .4 miles away from my house, the taxi stopped. Green light. Cars honking. Traffic speeding past. What in the world is going on?
I look into the front seat at the driver and see him writing something down on a piece of paper. All the while, my meter ticks, charging me 28 cents for waiting.
He looks down at the paper, scribbles something. Looks up, then back down and finishes his scribbling. Tick- another 28 cents.
I finally lean to an angle where I can see what he’s looking at and jotting down.
It’s a phone number.
For a college in Chicago.
There was an add on the bench by the bus stop.
It all clicked, when the meter ticked again (another 28 cents), that he was writing down this college’s phone number for himself. I asked him if that was the case and he said, “Yes. I came to America, took a taxi job to pay my bills until I can afford college.”
Those 84 cents didn’t mean too much anymore.
What would you do to ensure that yourself, your spouse and your children get a good education?
When I hear people talk about how Facebook, Twitter and other Social Networks disconnect individuals from each other, I can’t help but smirk.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand where they are coming from but I posit that Social Media actually connects us in ways that we’ve never been able to be connected.
Even more so, in an age where social change is as important as it’s ever been, I believe that Social Media will be the means by which the change takes place.
Here are three examples, two of which took place in the last 48 hours.
Campaign #1- Joel Burns Takes a Stand Against Bullying
Over 50% of students have witnessed some type of bulling while in school. A higher 71% of students believe that bullying is a problem at their school. One statistic that really gets me is that 17% of all absenteeism in schools is related to bullying.
Now, I know I’ve been on both sides of bullying in my life. I’ve been teased for being a bit more sensitive than many. I’ve teased others for being different. But, I’ll say this now, until we put an end to bullying our school systems will not improve, our society will not cultivate and our liberty is absent.
Last night, I saw a video posted on a friend’s wall. At the time, this video had about 1200 plays and based on the topic I decided to check it out. It ended up being about 12 minutes of the most revealing honesty I’ve ever seen.
Fort Worth City Councilman and openly gay male, Joel Burns, addressed the City Counsel on the subject of bullying, homosexuality and life in general.
Some of you were just taken aback at my posting of this video, but let me tell you that nothing in this video is political. Nothing in this video is about some agenda. The video is simply about restoring humanity. The same humanity Christ sought to restore. The same humanity Mother Teresa sought to restore and the same humanity for which Gandhi starved.
Burns’ message? Life gets better. That bullying must end because too many kids are taking their own lives. That, quite simply, respect needs restoration and in that process, humanity will be restored.
As of 1:30 AM CST, this video has over 600,000 views thanks to Social Media. The same place where a lot of bullying takes place (Facebook) is now where bullying will end.
Campaign #2- #BeatCancer
Today on Twitter and Facebook, many of you probably noticed people writing “#beatcancer.” This was no random trend, but a well orchestrated social campaign. Every time someone tweets “#beatcancer,” Paypal and Swagg donates 5 cents to cancer research, in particular the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and Bright Pink.
At this point, there have been over 40,000 tweets with the #beatcancer hashtag. There’s 10 hours left in the campaign and I can only imagine this number will definitely continue to explode. It’s simplicity is what makes it so quick to grow, but it also means that fundraising just went into light-speed.
Where fundraising used to require cold-calls, door-to-door, selling candy bars and pie contests now it takes place through Social Media. This particular campaign hits at home, which is why I’m more than happy to be a part of it.
In July 2010, I wrote a blog about my dad’s bout with cancer. I didn’t expect to have the response that I did, but my friends at Appbistro helped me spread it across Facebook and Twitter. Two-weeks later, I gave a 2,600 dollar check to my parents to pay for treatments. The money I raised paid for his trip to M.D. Anderson, travel, hotel room and some medical payments.
Without that fundraising, my dad wouldn’t have had that opportunity and without that opportunity, he wouldn’t have the positive prognosis that he has today.
Social media made possible my father’s healing.
A Short Conclusion
I’ll just be blunt and say that social change will start and end with Social Media. That Social Networks will be key to successful social change. If we ignore them, we’re ignoring the growth of our educational program, we’re not fighting the battles of our time- cancer and bullying just to name a few. If we embrace these mediums, embrace their power and embrace the movement we can save lives today.
I work for one of the most awesome companies in the most interesting market in the world- the tech industry.
I’m pretty fortunate to be a part of the amazing world that is “technology,” and even though I’ve done it for a while, I’m still just a writer in a web-world.
I don’t mind this at all. In fact, I enjoy the cross-section that takes place. I’ve started to see intersecting points between my background and the start-up life.
Here are just a few examples:
1. When you work on a project, you strive to make it as good as you possibly can. When I published my book, I don’t know how many nights I stayed up thinking that I needed to revise again. Now that I’m doing Press Relations, I find myself staying up thinking of ways to perfect what I’m doing.
2. There’s a great feeling of ownership in the product you produce. Even though I was exhausted after publishing my book, I felt proud of it. When I read articles on my poetry, however big or small, I couldn’t help but feel like I own every word in that book. I feel this way about Appbistro too. Our long nights “strategizing” or working on projects bring forth a beautiful sense of ownership to the product. Each blog, each review, each relationship built gives me joy.
3. It’s still about relationships. Without relationships, I would have never been able to achieve graduating college, publishing a book or attending graduate school. I still feel this way in my current job. I sit on conference calls a lot and if it weren’t for the amazing relationships that come out of them, it’d be tough sometimes. I’ve met people that I consider friends. I’ve met people I consider mentors. I’ve met people that validate my job and what I’m doing. These people keep me going.
So, I am…a writer in a world where writers don’t write sentences, they write lines of code. In a world where language means something completely different, like PHP or RoR.
And honestly- I don’t think I want to be a writer anywhere else.
After weeks of frigid weather, I flew to Portland to be greeted by a beautiful girl and some beautiful weather.
I couldn’t have asked for more.
Month #2- Februar-I-love you
I gave a lovely lady a bag of custom M&Ms with our names on them and she immediately professed her love for me.
Who’d have thought M&Ms would have been so powerful as to move a girl’s heart to love me?
Note, it was colder in Portland in February than it was in January.
Month #3- Jobless March
I quit my horrible job at DePaul University after months of torment. I began my unemployment, which I thought would never end.
Month #4- April-bistro
I started an unofficial employment with Appbistro as a contracted copywriter. I remember watching TechCrunch Disrupt online and thinking that I was a part of something that’s going to be huge.
More on this topic to follow.
Month #5- Bookin’
I published my first book, A Muttering Retreat. It took me a long time to write and I’ll be honest that once I was done writing it, I was literally done. I didn’t want too much more to do with it because it really wore me out.
It’s inexplicable, but after I invested so much time in one project and it finally culminated, I had no steam left.
Month #6- Road Trippin’
June came around and it was hotter than I like to imagine. Sallie took a plane from Portland to Chicago and we embarked on a 3200 mile road trip. Chicago-St. Louis- Bartlesville,Ok-Houston-Georgetown,TX-Greenville, TX-Bartlesville,OK-St. Louis-Chicago-Wisconsin-Chicago.
We got some great family time with the entire Black crew. Simply put- It was Midwest at its best.
Month #7- California Dreamin’
Ryan and Nalin at Appbistro decided to bring me out to California for some workin’. Regardless of the fact that it was foggy everyday and we worked some major hours during my six-week tour, it was one of the best times of my life.
I am blessed with two awesome bosses, both of which I consider friends as well. I am also blessed to be a part of a team that is changing the way small and medium-sized businesses grow.
Month #8- Propos’l you marry me?
I decided to ask Sallie’s brothers and father if I could marry her. One responded, “Awesome dude” and the other replied “Awesome, man…but I have to say this…If you hurt her, I’ll hurt you.” We then invented Heathball.
I was scared to ask Sallie’s dad. Not because I feared his response, but because I understood the seriousness to that question. He interrupted me half way through my “modest proposal” and said that everything he’s heard and seen from me is what he wants for his daughter.
It was nice to get cut-off half way through…he made it easier.
I also started student-teaching my first college course during this month. My students are awesome.
Month #9- Rollercoa-september
September was crazy. I spent labor day in Oklahoma with my family because my dad was in the hospital. He had to get a tracheotomy to help him breathe and it definitely worked. It was an emotional time, but I was thrilled to spend time with my family.
Soon thereafter, I flew to Portland, took some engagement photos, gave Sallie a ring and registered at Crate and Barrel, etc.
Later in the month, my dad went to MD Anderson and found out some really great news! He’s taking the small steps towards recovery.
Month #10- California’deux
Ryan and Jenn hosted me in California again. It was another productive and awesome week. The Appbistro crew makes me feel cared for and appreciated- not to mention extremely attractive.
Summation, So Far
I tell you all of these experiences, however serious or venial, because our lives are made up of incredibly significant and insignificant events. You might meet a girl on vacation and marry her four years later.
You might go to the hospital with bad news only to find out good news, vice versa.
You might write a book that doesn’t make the best seller list.
You might lose a job and live on ramen noodles for a month.
But regardless of all of these events, big or small, you start to realize that it’s not the events that matter, but the people around you.
It’s not that I love Appbistro, it’s that I love the Appbistro team.
It’s not that I love flying, I love hanging out with my family for a few days.
It’s not that I love Sallie, but I love the people who make her who she truly is.
The events…they come and go…they fade. I don’t remember most of the details, but I certainly remember the people who kept me in there.
“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.”—Mark Twain