I’ve written a lot about the negative side of social media, on this blog and in my book, Breaking the Spell. I’m still not a huge fan and probably never will be. But I have to share that this past week I saw a different side of social media. I saw it being used for good. I saw, and participated in, something I don’t think could have happened without social media.
I’m talking about the #runforboston campaign.
Like most people I was saddened and outraged by what happened at last Monday’s Boston Marathon. As a lifelong runner, and former marathoner—when I ran my marathons back in the 1980s we lived in a different world… one where bombs at finish lines would never have crossed anyone’s mind, much less happened—I felt a connection to the runners in Boston.
And thanks to this article on CNN (which I learned about via a friend on LinkedIn) and Becca Obergefell (@OberBecca)—someone I don’t know but was led to via Twitter—the #runforboston initiative enabled me to do something about it.
I was inspired to dedicate my next 26 miles to Boston and everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. And so, over the past week, I laced up my running shoes and hit the streets, logging my 26 miles over four days. Each day when I returned home I posted my miles, with a photo of my running shoes, on Twitter (as suggested by the CNN Run for Boston 2014 initiative).
And, each day as I was running, I thought about the people at the Boston Marathon and their families and friends. Yes, I run every week, but these runs were different. They helped me feel like I was doing something in my own small way to honor the victims.
I know it’s not much…
But it was a way, as a fellow runner, that I could honor them. It was a way to feel the solidarity of the running community across this country. And to be part of a campaign that as of this morning has grown to nearly 4000 runners and 20,000 miles. It was a way to at least try and put a positive spin on a truly horrific tragedy.
Without social media I probably would not have learned about #runforboston. And, I most certainly wouldn’t have learned about Becca Obergefell’s Google Doc where runners are logging their miles and reasons for running. If you’d like to contribute to the effort and the statement being made, I encourage you to log your miles, too.
I’d just like to say Thank You to John Sutter for your article on CNN.com and to Becca Obergefell for giving runners a way to give back in their own way, and for the chance to feel like a part of something larger. And, for showing me the positive side of social media!