The Webs We Weave….The Power of Social Networking for French Toast, Parties, and Health Outcomes

Social networking are health seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. We have Facebook where we share videos and pictures of our kids, parties, and crushes, Twitter where we talk about what we had for breakfast, Instagram where we post relentless hashtags (#selfiegameonpoint),  and various other sites aimed at giving us an outlet to spill our guts to anyone who will listen. Not to mention the unabashed “creeping” on old high school friends, exes, and that girl you never liked from highschool who married…HIM?!

How does health fit into this seemingly superficial picture? According to “Here Comes Everybody”, written by Clay Shirky, due to the sheer number of people connected to people who are connected to people, we have the most powerful network of individuals at our fingertips. The chance that a viral message which is supposed to reach someone who would it be helpful to, even if it starts at a place where it may not relevant is shockingly high. The six degrees of separation, reference in the book, illustrates how connections work, and how we have a very high probability of reaching anyone in the world within 6 relationships.  This is remarkable! In the health sector, some organizations have built up their campaign ENTIRELY around the use of this powerful social media network in order to gain support, build events, collect funds and spread messages. One such campaign is Open Our Eyes, a suicide prevention non-profit organization, which creates movements through it’s social media network by signing on “ambassadors” or those already popular in the social media world, and using them to advocate for their cause to their fans.

In fact, I was one of those ambassadors throughout college. Even though the quality of most of my Open Our Eye’s YouTube video’s was SUPREMELY amateur, it really helped effectively spread the message. The video reference below (my first one for Open Our Eyes) was watched over 1000 times, and received many retweets and reposts–it was even picked up by additional media sources.

Open Our Eyes signed me on as an ambassador in 2010, and in my opinion was on the leading edge of using social media as a way to successfully capture the attention of the younger generation. Important issues need to be disseminated in the most efficient and effective way possible, and according to new research, and books such as “Here Comes Everybody”, it looks like social media may be the lowest cost and highest power tool in the world. Finally, in 2015, it seems that more and more non-profit organizations are really catching on to these new paradigms of connections and communications,  and are beginning to successfully leverage this power for the good of society.

Video for Open Your Eyes:


  • Shirky, C. Here Comes Everybody, Ch. 4

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