Can you imagine giving up your voice to make a statement? That’s exactly what @silentclark has done through his Social Media Experiment to silence cancer and raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - and he's certainly got a lot of people talking. After reading about his story in Mashable yesterday, I caught up with him via Twitter, and sat down with him this morning (via facebook chat of course), to learn more about his month long journey. While Clark’s primary goal is to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as a social citizen, his secondary goals are just as intriguing: to see if it’s feasible to get through an entire month successfully without changing any social, leisure and professional habits; to see what situations work and don’t work for Social Media; to see how not talking affects his life.
What are the rules, you ask? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flikr, and Google Chat are allowed, but email, talking, writing, text messaging and use of sign language are not. (Simple yes/no questions can be answered by nodding head).
So, in our first ever “silent interview,” on Social Citizens hear what SilentClark has to say….
@SOCIALCITIZEN:You started off with a simple question: Is it possible in today’s world of social media to more effectively raise money and create awareness for a cause online versus traditional methods? What have you found out?
@silentclark: All indicators at this point are very promising. I have yet to seek out my direct connections and actually ask for money, it has all been very passive. The awareness, support and money have come from all over the globe, opposed to a very small radius when I did more traditional mail campaigns four years ago. With that said, the donation levels are still very low, but the point was to "leverage" social media - which I'm still crafting a plan to do just that. No doubt about it, awareness is the first step and creating a program or group that people can relate to will be the next step.
@SOCIALCITIZEN: You’ve hit the halfway point of your month long journey – what’s been the biggest surprise or challenge about giving up your voice to make a statement?
@silentclark: It was the slow realization that I have lost something. I've lost my normal life and gained a new dependency. I now depend on devices (phone, computer) every time I want to speak. It's something so natural that I took for granted. I also can see it catching up with my wife, who simply wants to hear her husband's voice again. I set out to gain insights about the challenges that cancer patients face and in some way I am starting to get a feeling for that.
My brother's ongoing battle with cancer makes what I am doing look like a walk in the park. When things get hard, I think about the pain he's learned to live with and the loss of use of his dominant hand. And somehow he is still the same fun, hilarious, individual he was before. I think of my mother too and want to make her proud. This endeavor makes me feel closer to her.
@SOCIALCITIZEN:Our generation is targeted as being so "dependent" on our technology...but you've really upped the ante on that one!
@silentclark: Very true, I was dependent before on email, and staying connected, but now I am dependent out of need not convenience.
@SOCIALCITIZEN:We seem to be turning to social media more and more to make statements, raise money, and raise awareness – what is your greatest hope for this campaign?
@silentclark: I hope that this experiment will help me connect with people who share my vision for silencing cancer. I want to establish a core group of people that can turn this into something more than just a one month experiment. The Social Media Experiment has inspired me to do more, and take this further. It is only the first step in hopefully a long path.
Along those lines, I asked what the Social Citizen community could do to help give voice to Clark’s campaign – here are the steps he suggests:
1) Spread the word about what I am doing here: The Social Media Experiment
2) Become of a Fan of our Silence Cancer page on facebook
3) Follow @silentclark on twitter and use the hashtag #silencecancer
4) Donate if you are able by heading over to the Ways to Help section of the website and click the “Donate Now” button to add your contribution
5) Be ready to participate in whatever online "event" we dream up to help leverage social media and hit our goal. Details to follow.
@SOCIALCITIZEN:And a final question I’m sure everyone wants to know...have you thought about the first thing you’re going to say when you break your silence?? (other than tell your wife just how much you love her and her patience!!)
@silentclark: Well that is indeed what keeps coming to my mind. She's made the biggest sacrifice here, and I respect her immensely for that. I don't know what I will say, I guess like everyone else you will have to tune in Monday the 31st at midnight to find out ;-x
We’ll be tuning in as SilentClark breaks his silence on May 31st, and will be watching with great interest as his efforts evolve. Is there a cause you could go "silent" for?