I have always been a bit of a nomad. I moved from Metro Detroit, Ferndale, to the great city of Ann Arbor at 9. Moved back to the City of Detroit as a young man at 18, and then East Lansing at 20. My heart and soul is here in Michigan and specifically in Detroit. It is a place where so much has happened that makes it a case study for so many things. I won’t delve into all the white flight and greater challenges currently faced by the city, but I will say that there is nothing like Detroit determination to face odds. This has shaped me a great deal as I believe being from Michigan shapes so many of our young people. We enjoy the outdoors but also the hustle and bustle of a Main street. We want to be involved with greater projects than ourselves but we also have to take care of ourselves financially and socially.
These dualities in life have always bothered me. That people feel they cannot be giving and selfish, that people feel they cannot make something without taking another thing, and so on. I have faced these dualities numerous times, specifically when I graduated High School I had a great paying job at Zingerman’s Roadshow making good money, being around good people, but losing all touch of myself as I immersed myself in the service sector. A drastic change was needed and I moved to Detroit, which after a year of working 50 hour work weeks I became a bit of a heathen and enjoyed myself, again immersing myself in the hip hop and music scenes of Midtown and Downtown Detroit. As I started to take stock of my learning at Wayne State I realized another drastic change was needed and I proceeded to transfer to Michigan State to hopefully balance my need for intellectual stimulation with the desires of a 20 year old. Two years of intense studying and working at area non-profits and the State News web team has taught me that dualities don’t have to be in juxtaposition.
What I have discovered in myself and I hope to share with other people is that we tend to think in twos and there are so many more pieces to so many topics. We have a political system steeped in duality, which creates havoc or prosperity, leaving very little space for compromise and agreement. We tend to think of work and play as entirely different entities and I have tried to practice that we think of things as beneficial regardless of the situation. Why can’t we work while we play? Why can’t we better ourselves by better others? Why do we focus on one goal when multiple goals may be obtained together?
It is this reason that I have branded myself as a communicator focused on the social good. People tend to categorize this as a “You’re one of those naive young people who don’t know how hard it is.” To these people I try to then ask, “How hard is it?” Which inevitably opens our dialogue and I share with them how I lived in Detroit and saw more raw pieces of humanity than most can handle on the television. I share with them that those same people have stories and want to create their own narrative instead of one that is propagated by the mass media and over reaching narratives of urban blight and poverty. Now granted some people take this and give not a single thought to it afterwards but if I can affect one person in the way I conduct myself and the rhetoric which I use to describe things, then I have done my job as a communicator for the social good.
Society has given us many things and we want to categorize them into good or bad. This again is a duality that I hold to be false, good or bad things occur sure, but what happens after the situation is what enhances or degrades society and my focus is and always will be on working towards a more just and good one. For example, bad event that occurs such as a shooting or murder. We hold condolences for the family and offer support and shared anguish as human beings but where most may stop at the funeral or memorial service I believe it is our job as communicators in the 21st century to share that story. Create a sharable moment that will hopefully end such violence in the future through community discussions, or seminars for at risk youth, or even a ‘turn-in-your-weapon’ style event where the family of the recently deceased faces each person and instead of holding grudges against those who perpatrated the crime, resorative justice is used to enhance the narrative and message further.
These are the ways in which I want to break the thinking of most people from dualities and absolutes. Into discussions and shared narratives. The Internet for all its cat videos and celebrity tabloids does give us the most powerful weapon in changing the way we as people on the ENTIRE PLANET can communicate and build. It is my belief that media and a change in society will go hand and hand, the age old adage of ‘the revolution will be televised’ holds more true now to ‘the change will be tweeted.’