Thursday, August 23, 2012

Twitter storytelling

A newsletter from Michael Margolis last week showcased the @NotTildaSwinton twitter craze as an example that stories can be told on Twitter.

What came to mind as soon as I saw Twitter and storytelling together was an entirely different example.  That of @AngelaShelton's Twitter stories of sexual abuse from April 2010.

I'm surprised that I haven't blogged about this before, it was so powerful.

Stories have been told on Twitter in several ways.  I know I have bookmarks of @NeilHimself and other authors telling stories 140 characters at a time.  It's a new version of the serial - a story spaced out over a given period in bursts of just a tweet.

As part of her efforts to raise awareness of abuse and its impact on the lives of more around us than most would realize, Angela told 3 victim stories over a week: a teen who survived abuse by her father and attempted murder by his friend and testified against both, a man finally coming to terms with a childhood rape kept silent for years, and a young woman still trapped by a father who trafficked her.

The stories were incredibly powerful.  The community that sprang up around them was amazing - fellow survivors who identified with each piece shared, supporting each other through tough moments.  I made friends with people in this community who I'm still connected to today.

Here's a presentation done about 6 months after the stories were tweeted where Angela talks about some truly exciting connections made during the event:

As I told Michael, 140 characters can force you to strip away any preamble.

And the connections enabled by Twitter stories are just as strong as elsewhere.

(Two years later, I'm having problems finding the actual tweets - here's the speech that kicked it off at #140Conf NYC)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lesson learned

I have had copied a story out of The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness
by Joel Ben Izzy hanging in my study for a while:
The Secret of Happiness
Nasrudin is known as much for his wisdom as his foolishness, and many are those who have sought out his teaching.
One devotee tracked him down for many years before finding him in the marketplace sitting atop a pile of banana peels - no one knows why.
"Oh great sage, Nasrudin," said the eager student.  "I must ask you a very important question, the answer to which we all seek: What is the secret to attaining happiness?"
Nasrudin thought for a time, then responded. "The secret of happiness is good judgement."
"Ah," said the student. "But how do we attain good judgement?"
"From experience," answered Nasrudin.
"Yes," said the student. "But how do we attain experience?"
"Bad judgement." 

I should have known, but guess I'm that much closer to happiness.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Patient stories

I'm a total sap.  Stories of struggle tug at my heartstrings.  People achieving dreams they've worked their butts off to reach sends tears streaming down my face.  Ask J, he's found me nearly sobbing over the last month.  The Olympics.  Prime sap material.

And then there are certain commercials during the games that are just so well done and touching.  They pull you in to a story and you forget you're watching an ad.  I got hit with those a few times during the off and on bits of the games I actually watched - and every time they were for the same place.

Our hospital.

I was starting this post in my head and referred to it that way.  As a University of Rochester alum who worked at the med center and bought a house nearby, I tend to think of it that way.  I know a bunch of  people who work there now.   It's where multiple family members have wound up in times of crisis.  And where I was raced the night of my episode.

Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester.

Their new ads lead you to a site  - URMC Stories, a highly visual gathering of detailed patient stories that also includes a submission form for more patients to share their stories.

It's where I found the story of a work acquaintance's bout with cancer.  It's where I found the story of Cameron, a kid whose family went through an episode worse than mine that got them to the same place - Long QT and an ICD.

I'm tempted to share my story, though I'll have to check with J, because he's a big part and it impacts him when I tell it.  I also feel a little ... intimidated, I guess ... since there's already a Long QT case and he's a bit more media-worthy as a young kid.

Whether I do or not, I do plan to return to the site and I love that they have it.  Sharing stories is so important to healing and such an awesome way to convey appreciation for those who save lives every day.  Job well done.