We are now five weeks into the semester, and it’s safe to say we’ve had our fair share of roadblocks. After all, it isn’t easy to promote a cause in a way that will influence people to take action. How do I gain the support of my family, when most are more concerned with having seen me on a news report rather than why they had seen me on television? How do I gain the support of my friends, when most are more concerned with possible fraudulence and self-absorption instead of trusting a friend and his fight for a cause? How do I convince an audience to care, let alone help out?
Admittedly, in the beginning, I thought I had this down. I consider my Internet presence to be rather vast, perhaps more than necessary. I wouldn’t say my influence over Facebook is very comparable to many others, especially when their thousand-breaking friend count towers over my barely-over-100 count – and sure, I know or knew the majority of those friends well, but ultimately outreach is dependent on numbers and the willingness to take action. But still, despite this, I also used Twitter (where the number of people who follow me is embarrassingly larger than the number of friends I have on Facebook), Dailybooth, Blogspot, Tumblr, Livejournal, and even YouTube. On each of these sites I attracted different audiences, from all over the world, even. In this, I was confident this global audience would give me an edge.
But I’d been wrong. In class we can discuss ideals and theories, but applying them to a culturally diverse audience proved an even harder task than trying to rally the support of people I knew personally. No matter how many people were in my audience, the roadblocks were still there. But naivety aside, the difficulty should not have been a surprise. Greg Mortenson faced many challenges in his efforts to build schools in Pakistan, as detailed in “Three Cups of Tea.” He struggled the same difficulties as we face now. Mortenson needed funding. People to listen to him. People to support him.
But Mortenson did not give up. Our efforts in our class are centered around media coverage and social networking, the latter of which not even being accessible to him (Mortenson had to be taught to use a computer, instead of using a typewriter to individually type out each of his letters). And still, he endured and proved successful. He stayed true to his word and built a school in Korphe, no matter how long it’d taken him. And one by one, his cause and his schools had blossomed from the ground.
Following his example, it was clear that I shouldn’t give up. It takes much more work and dedication to get your cause rolling. I figured, maybe one day a window of opportunity would come my way, some success. And now, after talking to my boss at work, I have established a drop off box of my own, located at the Kumon of Brandon East. Letters explaining my cause were sent home with kids to their parents, and already the box has grown from empty to partially full. Even if it hadn’t necessarily been a direct result of social media, it’s still one step towards realizing our goal.
Though we might not necessarily have to climb mountains to achieve the same results Mortenson did, no pun intended, by following his example we have the potential to go much further.