Help Hope Go Viral?

:: This is from our special guest Blogger Kara Soluri::
I first heard the term
social media at an Austin Social Media club event 6 months ago. I’d never been on Myspace or read a blog, and
twitter was something I did when I nervous.

Somewhat accidentally,
I fell into a crowd of social media evangelists who sold Web 2.0
technology as the gateway to more meaningful human connections in our
frenzied world.  According to Wikipedia

"social
media depends on interactions between people as the discussion and
integration of words builds shared-meaning, using technology as a
conduit."

Were blogs, microblogs,
and social networks really changing the human experience while I
slept soundly in Web 1.0?  I opened my eyes to the new Internet,
started a blog and worked on building networks on Facebook and
Twitter.  I studied the emerging field of corporate blogging, and how
it helped large organizations like Dell effectively listen to
consumers.  I watched customer evangelists like iJustine
spark rapid change in normally resistant enterprise companies. 

With ease, I accepted
the ROI of social media for the worlds of business and personal
branding, but I failed to see its impact on humanity. 

Fortunately, I soon met
Dave Neff of the American Cancer Society (also a contributor to this
space) and Susan Reynolds of BoobsonIce.
Rather than seeing social networks as vehicles for their organization
or personal brands, they are determined to see them as vehicles of
hope.  Dave told me of his belief that shared human experience offers
a powerful way of healing.  He spearheaded sharinghope.tv to give
members of the cancer community a safe space to inspire and support
each other.  Though Susan Reynolds credits her online friends for
giving her hope, she gives it back in spades by showing her zest for
life continues even while cancer zaps every bit of her energy.  I’m
in awe of the bravery, honesty, and humor that leaps from her blog,
BoobsonIce.  Since hope cannot be contained, the efforts of Dave and
Susan extend well past the cancer community into the human community.

Monday, I attended the
Celebration of Life of my friend Peter Attwell, who died at 48 from a
rare form of cancer.  Peter’s capacity for love overflowed, as did
the number of people attending his memorial service.  His 13 year old
son, Caleb, started a blog to share the gift of his Dad with the
world.  Born of the net generation, Caleb knew he didn’t have to
write anything.  He simply invited those touched by Peter to comment,
trusting the integration of words to build shared-meaning.  If
you visit the site, you will see a portrait taking shape of a life
successfully lived. 

Technology as a
conduit
for healing and hope – a network of people connected by
the cancer experience serving as a bionic lifeline to people recently
diagnosed, suffering from the effects of chemo, or grieving from the
loss of a loved one.  The ROI simply cannot be calculated.

Do you know a cancer
blogger sharing hope?  How have you seen other non-profits use social
networks for good? We’d like to use future posts in this space to
celebrate their efforts.  Please include links in your comments to
help hope go viral.
– Kara Soluri 

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