You’re at your computer. You’re in a coffee shop. You’re in your bed. You’re at your desk. You’re thinking of me reaching out to you through these words.
I’m here at my keyboard, typing these words, thinking of you and how isolated we are from each other.
I’m thinking about how isolation allows things to happen that shouldn’t. For instance, last week one of my pages was attacked in a creepy cyber way (and it still isn’t fixed completely. Costly tech support arrives today on a white horse, carrying new modems.) If the hacker knew me, he probably wouldn’t have done what he did. We’d kick back and have coffee instead. Our mutual isolation makes me a number. To him, I’m just another IP address, not a human being.
And yet, there is such potential for the electronic web that stretches out among us to pull into a tighter weave.
The Internet has such power and possibility if we can only figure out how to harness it.
For instance, this week on Kevin Smith’s podcast Plus One, Smith and his wife talked about how Mitch Albom hit him up for some help with a charity to feed a village of starving children. Albom needed $80,000 a year. Kevin generously got the charity ball rolling. Sure, if you’re rich, you can give. But if you’re rich and famous, you can give and alert others to the opportunity to give.
The Tiny Science of Your Fragile Humanity
Yes, a chance to donate is an opportunity. It’s your chance to provide aid. It feels good to give if you have something to give. It feels good because we are wired to be sympathetic. Our brains have mirror neurons that allow us to empathize so much we cry when we see an actor in emotional pain on a movie screen, even though we know it’s fiction.
Mirror neurons are that bit of biological microscopy and brain chemistry that make us human instead of irredeemable monsters bent only on survival by domination and murder. Boot camp, by the way, doesn’t turn off your mirror neurons, by the way. The discipline and brutality uses tribalism so your sympathy and courage is directed only to the benefit of your fellow soldiers.
That’s how you make good people do awful things.
To be creative and find an audience for your creativity is not just about making money. In fact, many artists would work for free (and many do) just for the love of art. Expression is often an inexplicable compulsion. If money comes, it is a side benefit. You hope to be paid for the fruits of your imagination, but wealth is something to be hoped for, not expected.
Seeing how privileged people use their influence to make the planet a better place, I see that I was wrong about fame. I undervalued it. I thought it had the potential to be a big pain in the ass, but that’s not fame’s only aspect. Now I see how it can be used beyond art. Fame can be a tool to help starving kids, for instance.
So many artists of all genres and stripes are poor. I wish you success (and much of the content here is aimed at helping you achieve it.) Success is important, but not just for you. Famous artists have bigger audiences. Famous artists make enough money so they can help others. There’s no nobility in a starving artist’s hovel. When you’re hungry, it’s very difficult to produce art.
Getting paid is good.
If you want to help the poor:
Don’t be one of them.
Recently, on The Biggest Loser, one of the contestants, Frado, found a way to use his good fortune to “pay it forward.” He had a clever idea. Frado won a session with chef Curtis Stone. Instead of just getting the expected tutorial for his family alone, Frado asked Stone to hook his name to a charity event. Stone cooked up some healthy food and Frado hosted five charities to raise more than $25,000. The hit and run tutorial would have come and gone. Frado found a way to use his newfound fame, and the celebrity’s chef’s notoriety, to make an impact on people’s lives.
It made me wonder, how can we harness social media, our fans and our followers, to help people in need? I think of the clients I know who have breast cancer or have had breast cancer. I think of my cousin and my neighbour, both hit with prostate cancer. My mother died of lung cancer though she never once smoked. These causes need research dollars. There are so many causes that need voices raised for them. There are so many everyday injustices and our silence is taken for complacency. I suppose, to my shame, that is what it is.
If we can get flash mobs together, how about flash protests and flash fundraisers? We try to make book trailers go viral. How about YouTube videos that show the needs that must be met. How about using our narrative powers to activate those mirror neurons so people are moved to help each other?
Better: What now?
Everyone dreams about what they’ll do if money comes their way.
What dreams can we light, as one flame fires another, with bright fame?
What can I do in the meantime, in these mean times?
What can we achieve, working together?
We have the most power tools of connection and interactivity
that have ever existed. Now.
Please let me know your ideas.
There are too many hungry. There are too many sick. We will all be sick.
There are too few who are reaching out to draw the whole together.
We have to find the way. We can start small, but we must start.
You and I could make the change that others will not.
- Mirror Neurons and Creativity – is there a relationship? (marcisegal.wordpress.com)
- Latest Red State Poster Atones for the Sins of The Father via Charity! (dreadcentral.com)