Heads up, this content is 11 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

The deeper I tumble down the rabbit hole of community development, the less I care about the social media marketing crowd, and the more interested I am in people who just do it without realizing how or why.

I’d like you to meet Whitney Moses, if you haven’t already.  (Chances are you have.)

Whitney Moses

Whitney is a massage therapist with a social life.

The social media numbers?  It’s unfair to talk about them since she could care less, but I’m going to anyway. She has over 1600 friends on Facebook, and is actually friends with every single one of them.  She keeps a close written account of her life for her inner circle of friends (400+ people) on Livejournal. And being still kinda new to Twitter, she’s rallied about 630 followers from her universe on there.  (It’s also worth adding that she and Amanda Palmer go way back.)

The only internet stats she does care about are her business reviews, since they’re critical to her livelihood.  Having changed office spaces several times in the last few years, she’s at the mercy of her clients to rebuild that pile from scratch every time.  The last move was a few months ago, and she’s up to 30 reviews on Yelp and a 5-star rating.

Whitney is active, both physically and socially.  She sings and dances regularly in the San Francisco club scene, and she monkeys around at the rock climbing gym whenever she has the chance.  She’s obsessed with the human body, and is usually enrolled in extra courses to expand her massage therapy offerings, even though she already has plenty of certifications.  Online, she reads as much as she can about what her friends are up to, comments on their stuff religiously, and sends them personal notes whenever she’s thinking of them.

People love her.  She’s smart, generous, compassionate, aware, engaged, fair, accessible, and joyful about life.   Whenever a friend needs something, she finds a way to make it happen for them.  Whenever she needs something, people run toward her in mobs, holding as much of it as they can carry.

When I started the Deviants Online series in the winter, Whitney was one of the first people I invited to speak at the workshop.  But when I asked her, she looked at me like I had three heads.  “Social Media Marketing” isn’t her subject.  She wouldn’t even consider herself a great example of how to “be awesome on the Internet.” That’s for other people to be experts on. She’s just being herself.

Exactly the point.

I’m still working on her, and will hopefully get her to start articulating her methods and philosophies soon.  But that’s not what’s going on right now.

Right now, she has a broken leg. Well… worse. A knee full of ripped ligaments. As of last Saturday, she’s injured and not allowed to walk, dance, or work for six months.  Our Whitney, the center of a massive community, is down. And without insurance.

I saw her last night.  She was laughing about it, but also clearly frustrated, and worried about how this is all going to play out.

I managed to wait until I left before I burst into tears.  I crumbled into an incoherent, snot-dripping wreck, mumbling onto the shoulder of another friend, “No.  We NEED her OUT there!”

It’s just six months. She’ll get through it. But the shock still has me dizzy: Whitney’s been a lighthouse of passion, activity, health, and engagement in my life for years.  I don’t think about it — I just stand up stronger because I know she’s there, and living with the grace and force and connection that I pretend I’ll someday attain. Seeing that threatened hit me like a fist to the gut.

No. We need her out there.

Fortunately, the whole “without insurance” thing is only a half-truth.  It’s true she’s probably facing $30,000 in medical bills and 6 months worth of lost wages, but there are also hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who are committed to helping her out.  The crowds are already organizing a central calendar to plan visits, transportation, and meals for her, and schemes for several fundraisers are already in the works.

She doesn’t have that kind of safety net because she’s a nice person.

She has that safety net because she has spent her entire life listening to and supporting the people around her, pursuing her dreams as honestly as possible, and including as many people as she can in them.

UPDATE!  Stuff You Can Do…

Heads up, this content is 11 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.
deviants online

I’m really excited, and really proud, of what’s starting to happen with Deviants Online.  Not familiar with it? No problem – here are the basics.

Deviants Online was started because, while there are plenty of social media resources for mainstream businesses, there just aren’t many (or any!) for us “deviants” – queer folk, artists, sex geeks, undergrounders, and others that don’t walk the straight and narrow. We wanted to create a way for us to network, learn from each other (and from guests who are experienced at handling the personal / professional / volunteer blend), teach each other, and talk about best practices for handling social media and online networking. Think – a Facebook tutorial for the queerly minded….a Twittering lesson for those who value their personal privacy but want to get the word out about their projects…ideas for blogging artists to get their work in front of more people…and other sexy things to do with Google.

While we’re having the workshops monthly in San Francisco, we wanted to make the conversations available to others who can’t attend, so we’re happy that we’ve got the edited recording of the December ’09 meeting up for your listening enjoyment. We give attendees a chance to chat “off record” and we edit out any mentions of identifying information that slip during the gathering, so what you’ll hear combines the amazing resources & information that come up during the discussion with a healthy respect and protection of personal privacy.

>> Listen to the first workshop here! <<

We’d love for you to join us in coming months – you can see a full schedule at the website. On January 12, Meitar “maymay” Moscovitz will be our featured guest for the next workshop. While we encourage donations to cover the cost of the meeting space, please don’t skip it if money’s an issue for you – we value your presence and energy far more than your money!

Any questions? Just ask…and please come check it out!

Heads up, this content is 12 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Oh hey, I haven’t blogged here in a month.  Why?  Because I’ve been way too busy with life!  To catch you up, here’s an Executive Summary of Exciting Things that are in my line of sight right now:

Social Media

by Harper Wray

Genderfork

I recently added a form that lets people tell me whatever’s on their mind about gender anonymously. Dozens of people pounced on it, and my little blog curation brain exploded.   We’ve now got an active talkative community, a constant feed of brilliant thoughts, an influx of new profiles, and a really nifty twitter stream.  I have a thousand things to say about all this — on anonymity and gender consciousness — but I’m still trying to collect my thoughts.

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Boffery

We showed up in Forbes.com, the Village Voice, a Fox News late show, and — somehow — Italy. A thousand people are knocking on our doors for beta invites right now, and we’re working our asses off to get the site into shape.  We’re also thrilled about bigger questions that this buzz has brought up in the communities around us: How do we currently talk about sexuality with our trusted friends, and where we want to take that conversation from here?

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Ventana

Cerado Ventana is evolving like crazy into something of endless potential.  BlogHer’s using it to make search widgets (so gorgeous!), Social Media Club is passing it around as a member directory, and, yes, we even got Barack Obama on board (well, okay, not him personally, but still). Inside scoop: we’re working on a new major iteration of the system which should be live within a month.  Expect another major influx of useful widgets and customizable iphone apps as soon as I can set that free.

Art

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Can I Sit With You, Too?

Hey, guess what? I’m in a book!  And the book happens to be fantastic — it’s full of stories of social awkardness in the grade school social scene… stories that are so absurd you know they have to be true.  Mine’s called “Will you go out me?”  (yep — i’m telling that one).  The proceeds benefit a special needs program that directly takes care of some of my favorite bloggers’ kids, so it’s extra-worth the cover price.  Go buy it. You’ll love it.  Swear.

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Mosaics not Mortagages

This one’s not mine, but it’s something I want you to know about.  My good friend, artist John T. Unger, is using the recession as a reason to get more creative.  He’s been designing his dream studio for about a decade and is finally ready to build it, but now can’t get a loan because the banks are too screwed up with the economy.  So instead, he’s selling gorgeous high-end custom mosaics to raise the funds.  If you know anyone who’d be interested in this shinyshiny art, please send them John’s way.

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Queer Open Mic

Hey hey hey — Queer Open Mic is THIS FRIDAY! Come play!  We went underground for a little while due to a loss of venue, but now we’re back and better than ever at Modern Times Bookstore (it’s perfect!). This Friday, we’re featuring Aimee Suzara, who rocks my socks. Sign-ups are at 7pm and show’s at 7:30. See you there!

Life

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::Stupid Grin::

I accidentally fell in love… but that’s all I’m gonna say about it… unless you get me out for dinner… in which case I’ll tell you everything.