Thursday, January 12, 2017

Project: Talkin' Through 2017!

Welcome back, old friend.  It's been a few years.  Over 3 to be exact.  I'm not 100% sure why I'm back, but I am hoping it will help me sort out a little project I am starting today that I hope will last the entire year.  It's all about using social media and technology in 2017 BETTER.

Here is my lengthy post explaining it all from Facebook this past Sunday (you can skip to the entire post if you've already read it - there is just a little more to read below that):
So here's the's 2017 and I've decided that I want to try something. It might take a few words to explain, so stick with me.
This past year, I've looked around and had a tough time recognizing the world I'm living in. It's definitely not the world I grew up in in Idaho back in the 70s & 80s - but it's not even the world I knew in the early 2000s just after I had moved to Washington D.C. I think it's a combination of a lot of things, and we could take hours discussing and debating what we each think it is or where the change came from and who or what is to blame, but I think at the core, a lot of it deals with communication - or the lack thereof. Real communication....not likes on pictures and retweets on 140-words and sassy comments on posted article. We don't talk like we used to with co-workers and friends and neighbors - we don't write...really write...notes and letters and cards like we used to - we don't take time to strike up a conversation with a stranger or a friend we've grown apart from (if for no other reason than just the passage of time) because the speed of our lives "just doesn't allow it.' A lot of blame has been put on the addiction we have as a society to our technology - our computers and our tablets and our phones - as well as the time-sucking power (for lack of a better phrase) of the world of 'social media.' I think that there is something to be said for that, as one who has spent (wasted?) more than his fair share of time on the apps and web pages of his favorite outlets.
But I've also been thinking recently how truly amazing social media is - how, when used as a force of good (as opposed to a force of bad or even just a regular ol' force of 'wasting time'), it can bridge worlds and differences - it can teach and lift and inspire and heal. Then I start thinking that maybe it's just easier for us to blame it on the negatives, and then continue to hide in our own little corners of our own little e-worlds, blissfully wasting time and shutting ourselves off a little bit more each day.
So in 2017, I'm going to try, in my world and in my way, to use technology and social media for good: to communicate and connect and reach out BETTER. And I'm hoping that somewhere out there, in the realm of my e-world, there are 52 people who are willing to come along with me. Here's how:
Once a week, for the next 51 weeks (I'm going to double one of the weeks since I missed the actual first week of the year dreaming this thing up), I want to have a FaceTime (or Skype, or Facebook Video Messenger, or Gchat Video) chat with someone in my life. The conversation will be guided a lot by the two of us - maybe you want to ask me about living in Sweden, maybe I want to ask you about growing up in Des Moines, maybe you want to ask me about my miserable sports career in Blackfoot, maybe I want to ask you about the picture you posted of your recent trip; the chat will be as light or as heavy as we want. The possibilities really are quite endless. I'm going to plan for up to one hour a week - 52 hours out of the entire 2017 - to commit to these chats. We may not take that much time - I'd like to think we can at least hit 30 minutes - but we will take it on a week-by-week basis. My hour with you will be other-technology free (barring a work emergency - but I'm going to try and schedule these in my non-work times...we'll see.) I won't be surfing Facebook or reading Apple News while we're speaking. and I would hope you won't be, either.
IF this has piqued your interest, here's a bit more information for you on how I see it all working:
-If you're in, please make sure you have FaceTime or Skype or some other face-to-face technology. I don't want this to just be a phone call.
-If you would like to be part of my 2017 chats, please send me an email at and just let me know that you're in. If you can include in your email your cell number (for FaceTime) or Skype name, that would be great.
-As I get emails in, I will email you back with the week in 2017 that we will be speaking. I will just assign people to weeks as they come in. I know life gets busy, but I hope you can figure out ONE HOUR in that allotted week that we can chat. (You don't have to decide now. We will email as your week gets closer to whittle down to an actual time.)
-I don't have a vision of what I am going to get out of this, but I am thinking I will write about it as I go along, and I may even record conversations - we'll see how it goes. Just be aware of it. And - because it's a conversation, we can talk about anything we may discuss that you DO NOT want part of something I might write.
-I am interested in ANYONE I am connected with here on FB, whether I've known you for 40 years or we just met. (I will draw the line at no immediate family, though. I don't want to be the guy who is known for scheduling time through Facebook to talk to his parents. You know?) I am interested in a wide scope of whoever is out there - and I hope that 52 people in that wide scope might be interested in a conversation with me sometime this year.
So that's it, in a really vague, unclear nutshell. I will tell you, right up front, that I have no idea what I am looking for in doing this and I have no vision of how it all shakes out. What I do know is this: the magic of the technology we have today makes the world we live in small and navigable and ripe with amazing possibilities for all of us to get more out of life and put more into it. I am just hoping that somehow in this new year, through this little project, that I am able to broaden my horizons, learn a thing or two, reconnect with old friends and maybe help someone out there any way that I can. I think it could be a pretty amazing year with the help of 52 of you. I hope you feel the same.
If you've read this far, THANK YOU for sticking with my ramblings. And thank you also for even considering jumping into this with me. I can't promise anything but maybe some good laughs and a listening ear. I hope to hear from some of you!
Happy 2017!
Now let's talk....

I came to this idea because the last year - but specifically the last 4 months of the last year - were so unbearable on FB and Twitter and Instagram that I thought THIS CAN'T BE RIGHT.  So I just kept trying to figure out something I could do - something I could post or something I could say or link that would help CHANGE it all to something that I wanted to see every day. But I couldn't find anything!  And then last week out of the blue it hit me: what goes ONLINE starts with each of us OFFLINE - with our hearts and our minds and what we're feeling and who we are surrounded I wanted to find a way to connect with people in my world and start the communicating that social media doesn't allow us to have - real talking - real conversations - real emotions.  It probably won't be a perfect "project" and I really have NO idea what the outcome will be....but I know that it's something small I can do in MY offline world to make things more positive. We will see how it all goes!
So that is the plan!  I have all 52 weeks filled - along with some "alternates" just in case I lose people along the way.  Today, January 12th, I will have my first conversation with an old friend of mine from my Ricks College days back in 1993. I look forward to it...and to the conversations that will come in the weeks and months to come!  I hope along the way that I can find a way to convey it all to you. Stay tuned! And while you're staying tuned, start your own real conversations with those around you! I'd love to hear how they go!

In the words of one of the great classic American musicals:
Happy talk, keep talkin, happy talk!
Cheers! Matt