Leveraging your voice

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 27, 2011, I watched in horror from Boston as my former home and community in Alabama was torn asunder from a devastating string of tornadoes that cleared a path from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, winds reaching over 190 mph. As my friends picked through the rubble and helped a community rebuild, I toiled from afar, safe in my apartment in Beacon Hill. I was desperate to assist.

From home, I tweeted this: “Frustrated that I’m not in Alabama doing something. I hate this feeling.”

That’s when a friend in Birmingham called me out on Twitter – “You have over 1000 Facebook friends and 500 Twitter followers. Do something.”

It was a shock to my system. I was embarrassed to not think of this, to not use my voice to help tell a story. I was a self-professed social media fanatic. Why didn’t this dawn on me? It was the first time I was conscious of having a voice and having the ability to use it in a positive way.

Today, I was conscious of it. It started with a Facebook status.

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I expected to get some likes and some comments. I thought it would stir the pot a bit and would get a rise out of some people. All in all, it was an honest statement and I was interested in seeing what came from it.

Truth? I didn’t expect what came next… I didn’t expect to hear dozens of stories from friends and family members, colleagues and students from all across the country.

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I could keep going, but you get the point.

I watched these statuses tag me over the course of the day. It was a beautiful thing to see my simple status come to life. I’m thankful to have so many thoughtful friends who tell their stories to their own friends and family.

While the visibility of the HR sign is nice and makes you feel like an ally, changing your profile picture won’t actually change anything. Taking action, writing your legislators, working in your community, telling your story is far more important than a two-click profile pic change. Take a few minutes, be intentional and actually do something.

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Leveraging your voice