Friday, July 1, 2011

"Filters, be gone!"

Something kicked in two days ago. Something that occurred to me as I was navigating this vast social media landscape. The way I figured it, I've been a bit too conservative wandering around out here - operating at a 40-50% contact level. I decided it was time to make a strong move to see just how powerful these modern communication tools can really be.

I decided to revisit Facebook's "Friend Finder" feature - for the 157th time. But this time I was determined to do something different. I was going to reach out to every single person with whom I've ever had contact in my life, (out of the pool of Facebook subscribers, that is.) And to accomplish this task, I knew that I was going to be required to do a bit of brain rewiring which involved modifying the filter settings. It's as though I went into my "brain preferences" folder and checked off the little box that said, "Remove Filter System(s)." Actually, I went the extra mile by selecting the "Check All" box, too. When I talk about filters here, I'm talking about the internal conversations I've always had about achieving a different level of contact out here; ideas that have repeatedly served as obstacles at a time when I am looking to build something very special with Eldercation. In the past, whenever I bumped into the "Friend Finder" page, I fiddled with it a bit. I always enjoyed browsing through the names that came up as I would scroll down . . . and down . . . and down. Then, whenever I thought I had reached the bottom of the list, it seemed to regenerate again. After a good twenty minutes of doing that, I'd have my fill, sign off (having selected no one) and then go about my day.

Looking back on my pattern - I'll call it - it was clear that I was looking at the names and then having a quick "Harry to Harry" conversation that would go something like this, "Oh, yeah. I remember 'so and so,' - a great person. But they don't remember me." Filter. "I don't want to bother them." Filter. Every time I saw a familiar face - Filter. Many of the folks I'd see were from my home town - people I knew from elementary, middle and high school. Then there were faces I recognized from college, law school and certain jobs. And by applying the filters this way, I was effectively limiting myself - shutting out a lot of very special people who have shared particular moments with me on this current life adventure.

Years ago, the application of such filters may have, in fact, been the best approach in terms of me having enough focus and time to write a book; it was a way for me to keep my surroundings quiet and distraction-free. But now, things are different. Now, I have something I want very much to share with people - with the world - as grandiose as that sounds.

And so yesterday was the day that I decided to change course while doing my thing in "Friend Finder." Yesterday, I decided to look at the names and whenever I saw a face, a name that I recognized as someone who has touched my life in some way - in any way - I was going to reach out to them. I clicked away for a solid hour or so. It felt good.

And now - I sit back and observe. I wait. I get to see what comes back to me. I have an opportunity to see if the person who sat in back of me in home room in the 8th grade remembers me. Perhaps the girl I had a crush on in the fifth grade ... maybe, today, I'll find out that she knew I even existed.

I don't ever want to be seen as a person who forces things on others - this has never been my style. But here's the way I figure it: If I can present something to people and it interests just one or two of them - if those one or two people are able to see the value in what I'm pursuing and those individuals then share it with their friends? Then, yes, I want to cast as wide a net as possible.

I thought of a phrase a few years ago - this was when I first came up with the Eldercation idea: "Changing the face of aging - one face at a time." Well ... now we will get to see what these social media tools can do - one face - one "Like" - one tweet - one YouTube view - at a time.

Slow growth in a very fast world.

Grass roots all the way.

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