Thursday, November 1, 2012

Can We Tweet Our Way to a Better World?

Check out this website where educators are helping educators recover from Hurricane Sandy! 
 Take a moment and donate if you can!

I care about people I have been fortunate enough to meet, but this week I realized that I care about people I have never met. Surprisingly, I have a hurricane and an earthquake to thank for this!  Earlier this week, I awoke to hear of an earthquake on the western coast of Canada. My first thought, "I have friends there!" (Let me be honest, I now know TONS more about the location of Canadian cites.) Using a map and my twitter feed I checked to see if any of my Canadian PLN members lived  near where the earthquake hit. Now, I have never met these friends and we have never even spoken. But yet, they are friends/acquaintances/part if my PLN. People that I discuss (mostly)  important educational topics with. Sometimes we just chuckle and laugh, sometimes we discuss fears and how the isolation of out job can leave us craving  conversation with people that understand what we do.

Hurricane Sandy was my second wake up call. I watched in horror as Sandy slammed into NY and NJ and devastated the area like I have never seen before. Now, for some reason NJ is a hotbed of tweeting educators and I have dozens of them on my Twitter feed. I was relieved to see post from them like this: "I'm okay, is everyone else okay? Wife says I can't use the phone for Twitter, stay safe!" #holycrapbigstorm  Alright, I made that one up, but most of the tweets I read had a similar tone and feel: Are my friends safe? Are you Okay? Can I help? Many with power offered a warm dry place to stay. Others let their friends know where there was gas, food, water, ice, and any other essentials. (Yes, I do consider an open Starbucks or ABC store an essential!)

I mulled these occurrences over in my mind, and wondered why did we react in this manner? We worried about people we had never met and several of the wonderful souls on my Twitter feed offered their homes and opened their lives to people that they had only exchanged messages of 140 characters.

More question sprang to mind: How can we use this? How can we hate or ignore the plight of people that we know and respect? Could this be used worldwide?

Well, could we?

After reviewing the folks I know (followers/following) on Twitter I realized that I have people from 35 different states and 8 different countries. (4 continents) If something happens in their part of the country or world, I would be concerned for them and eager to help. I have decided and if you decide to take this opportunity with me, we can make a difference! Reach out to other educators scattered around the world and connect with them. We each offer a unique perspective and knowledge base that if shared and integrated with each other could become a dynamic learning force. A force not only in education but in society!

What comes after connecting with educators world wide? Meeting them face to face! Get to know them on a personal level. I started this goal by attending an edcamp in VA. The folks at edcampisva were and are fantastic people that I learned a lot from. This edcamp's focus was independent schools, um I'm a public school guy, would they accept me. This group was fantastic, open, and welcoming. Fear is fine, but don't let it control you. I continue my growth in 8 days when I attend edcampbmore. I look forward to meeting many people for the first time and growing our PLN into a stronger unit.

Maybe a tweet can't change the whole world, but maybe, just maybe it can change our piece of the world.

An aside: One of my fellow bloggers posted a link about how a blog was better if you added a picture. I'm not going to add a picture now. I'll add one when I take a picture of  members of my PLN in Baltimore and add it to this post next week. Stay safe!

follow me @philgriffins on twitter


  1. Great post, Phil! I like your proposal that Twitter could be used to reach out in times of need. When I started on Twitter I thought, what a great source for information. However, it was only once I started connecting with people in my PLN that I truly started to see it as something more meaningful. The possibilities for connecting, collaborating and yes, even helping others are limitless. I look forward to the day when I will meet people from my PLN in person too. Maybe you! :)

  2. I commented on this from my phone...but it did not post. Anyway, I thought this blog was very heartfelt and meaningful. Thanks for sharing!