Monday, February 06, 2017

"Facebook Fairytales" by Emily Liebert - Modern-Day Miracles To Inspire The Human Spirit

What an inspiring book! Author Emily Liebert has collected some fascinating and heart-warming stories of how individuals have used Facebook in creative ways to connect with others. In some cases, the stories are of families being reconnected.  In one story, a life-saving kidney transplant happened because an appropriate donor was found through a Facebook appeal.

One of the vignettes that grabbed my attention has to do with Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Bob Jones has a reputation for being an extremely conservative, fundamentalist Christian school with very strict codes of conduct for students and faculty.  It also has a longstanding reputation for racism. Black students were not admitted until 1971, and a ban on interracial dating persisted into the twenty first century.

Bob Jones alumni working in the "real world" found that their school's reputation for racism and bigotry was widespread, and was causing problems for them in their careers. One of the graduates started a Facebook page for "Bob Jones University Survivors." Out of that group came a consensus opinion that the group should lovingly address their concerns to the university's president. They did so, and not long afterward, the Bob Jones website added a statement by the Board of Trustees apologizing for past failures in race relations over the course of the school's 81 yr history. It was a stunning capitulation by a very entrenched institution, and Facebook was a catalyst for fomenting this minor revolution.

I was thrilled to read one of the final stories about an enterprising man, a recent MBA grad, who used Facebook ads to get on the radar of companies like Amazon, Google, IDEO, and Industrial Light and Magic. One reason for my interest in this vignette was that it described Eric Barker, someone I have come to know in the past few years. He continues to be an innovator, writing a weekly Blog entitled "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" that has amassed a loyal readership of close to a quarter million people. It is a small world, and Facebook makes it even smaller!

This book is a testament to the fact that Facebook can be a very positive and useful tool for those who choose to employ it in ways more creative than merely chronicling the latest exploits of their cat or their precocious niece.




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