As a blogger, I thought I really understood social media and knew the potential for using it for doing good things in the world, but it wasn’t until I became the focus of a social media campaign myself that I felt the true power of it.
On January 15th, I took a big fall, which put me flat on my back, unable to work, with medical bills piling up because of it.
For the first week, I stayed positive about it all, determined not to get beat at the mental game while I healed, but after that, I started to really get down on myself. Not only was I going to miss out on climbing, biking, and playing soccer, but I was also unable to keep up with work, which meant missed income, and I couldn’t participate as usual with the family.
As those of you who know me can attest, I’m a heavy Twitter user, usually sending out links to notable items in the green scene, along with random, non sequitur observations, and tidbits about my life. So when I got the first big medical bill in the mail, I tweeted this:
I got a couple of responses to it that related to health care in the US, and then my friend Jerry tweets this:
I got a good laugh over that, not taking it seriously, ’cause it’s Jerry, and we josh each other all the time, and then I receive a direct message from another friend, Dave:
To which I respond – I got nothin’.
Another friend, Adam, calls me up and says, “Hey, David, Jerry, and I want to do something to help you out with your medical bills, and we wanted to know if we should just pass the hat quietly, or if we can post about it online and make a social media event out of it. Would you mind if we promoted it publicly?” Since I’m pretty public with my life, I don’t mind it being promoted, I told him – in fact, I’d be flattered that they took the time and energy to do so.
When I woke up on February 1st, I saw the fundraiser posted at The Good Human and Twilight Earth , and started watching the tweets fly about it. It was quite amazing – the links were getting retweeted all over the place, from friends of mine with few followers, to accounts with huge amounts of followers, like Twilight Earth, Elephant Journal, Planet Green, and Treehugger. The potential reach of those tweets was enormous, exposing me and my situation to thousands and thousands of people who have no idea who I am.
And then some other green bloggers joined in, with posts going up at Elephant Journal, MNN, The Fun Times Guide to Green, and A Little Greener Every Day, along with a huge amount of tweeting and sharing via Facebook. The outpouring of support was amazing, with people sending me best wishes via direct message and email, which felt great.
The fundraiser ran all of that week, and when David, Jerry, and Adam told me that people had donated over $1800.00, I was blown away by the generosity of all of the people who took the time to donate some of their hard earned money to a guy they had never even met!
While I do have more bills than this amount will cover, it doesn’t matter – the fact that people would be willing to donate to my situation at all is incredible, and it’s not just me that benefits from it, as this also greatly affects my family as well. So it’s a huge gesture toward my whole family, and one that I don’t take lightly.
Here’s the kicker:
I’ve never met Adam, Jerry, David, Shea, Robin, or Jeffrey before (the only one I’ve actually met is Waylon Lewis), yet they blogged about it and helped promote this fundraiser. I’ve only interacted with them online, via Twitter, Facebook, their own websites, as well as talking or chatting with them on Skype.
So they are part of my community, except it’s a virtual community, a digital village, not a local community. And they came through for me and made me really feel the connection and reap the benefits of it. That’s amazing to me.
I just need to say, from the bottom of my heart, a huge thank you to every single person who helped with this social media campaign, whether through donating or just spreading the word.
It’s been a testament to the power and reach of social media, and I feel honored to have such a great virtual community that would be willing to ‘get my back’ when I am in need.