3 thoughts on “Intrigued by Sam Ford’s ‘What Happens When Acts Of Kindness Go Social’”

  1. Appreciated these thoughtful reactions, Charles. Much better than a 140-character response. :) Here are some off-the-cuff and not particularly organized thoughts in response–

    You raise some intriguing questions here, some that I considered as I wrote the piece and some which I hadn’t thought about. In the case of both Lane Goodwin and Dalton Dingus, these weren’t organized by families particularly savvy in marketing but rather were picked up and added to over time. As bloggers, Twitterers, and eventually media professionals started picking up the story, of course, considerable marketing savvy was added to the mix…But, in both cases, these weren’t cases necessarily intending to draw large, widespread effort. Both were originally promoted within geographically local communities. Most of the initial responses, and throughout the campaign the most vibrant responses, were first from the family’s personal circle, then from people in the region, then from people in the state (for the most part). The issue is that you can’t keep things necessarily contained to the local. Word spread via social circles to “Kentucky diaspora”…Then, people with no connection at all to the family or the state got intrigued.

    Long story short: I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. Every family of a child who has cancer can’t launch a national/international campaign of some sort, of course. On the other hand, the most intense interest in these campaigns originated from and remained to people who had some kind of local tie.

    I’d argue these might act as case studies to demonstrate the potential for community organization that could happen on a more local level in their area. I know of several other families who have used social media as a way of organizing local fundraising efforts–or efforts for friends and family located in a geographically diverse way–for a sick relative or friend. This works because, on a site like Facebook, we mainly use it to communicate with our personal network and interact with people close to where we are. Many of the people who supported the Goodwin and Dingus families would likely do the same for young children in their area–and probably feel an even deeper tie–if they knew about it.

    One of the reasons this isn’t either/or that taking action on this wouldn’t necessarily replace acting on a local level: the main action required was very small–mailing an extra Christmas card, clicking like, or taking a picture giving a thumbs up. I think it’s much more likely to get widespread interest in a campaign if the initial act is a small one, and a smaller base might get inspired enough to do deeper research, etc. The Goodwin family have, as I pointed out, tried to transfer interest in their son’s story to the larger issue at hand, and you could imagine perhaps doing so in ways that tie people back to action they can take in their community/supporting folks at the local level.

    I guess that’s one of the challenges here–dividing people not just by geographic community but also by being neighbors of common empathy, common plight, or prior connection (like a family strewn about the country, or former high school or college alum, etc.)


  2. I agree it’s not either/or. I wrote the response quickly, right before heading out to church. At one point during the service I realized I hadn’t said that I had no qualms about these particular examples. I just thought down the road at what could happen in others.

    Good thoughts. Thanks for the dialogue.


    1. LIkewise, Charles! And I certainly read your piece as not seeing these particular examples as bad ones. I think we have to think about these developments critically, to see how further support and focus might help cultivate grassroots initiatives like these into sustained efforts to drive deeper community engagement.


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