As the news cycle pumped out explosion replays and graphic photos, the nation shook its’ head in disgust and attempted to come to grips with the reality of what had taken place. For 150 higher-ed professionals, that reality was especially potent considering they were scheduled to depart the next day for the one place in America where this horror was unfolding. But what seemed to be terrible timing for the Case Social Media Conference turned out to be a beautiful example of perseverance and dedication.
It didn’t take long before the #casesmc tweets lit up the TweetDeck. Would there still be a conference? Was Logan Airport even open? The replies were a calm and defiant “yes and yes.” The 150 people scheduled to attend the fourth annual social media conference were clearly nervous about spending three days in the city that just experienced the first domestic act of terror in the post-9/11 era and no one could blame them. Professional development is important, but is it really THAT important? The answer: a resounding “yes”.
These 150 people had families, children, spouses, and dozens of other valid reasons for why they SHOULDN’T go to Boston, but it was the one reason they SHOULD that reigned supreme. While nervous and uneasy, these 150 knew that the dream of vanquishing these vile acts rests upon the success of the education sector. The path to trumping ignorance and hate is paved by knowledge and inclusion. These 150 knew this to be true and because of that, they marched into Boston fueled by their commitment to become better at their jobs in hopes it will advance the institutions they represent.
Keep in mind; most of these 150 don’t have social media in their title. These people came to Boston, during a historical moment of fear, to improve upon an area of their job that is generally unrecognized by their institutions. They came because they believe it IS the future of their industry, regardless of whether it’s ten percent or one hundred percent of their job.
Led by a devote Conference Chair and a Program Manager who displayed her under-appreciated talents which each arising crisis, the conference not only happened, but stood tall above the chaos around it and enlightened and inspired all in attendance. Ideas were exchanged, connections made, and implementations planned. These 150 constructed a blueprint for growth, while much was falling down around them.
Should you be one of those who think social media champions take their passion lightly, or that it’s an informal technology that stains an esteemed industry defined by tradition, I urge you to take notice of the full-timers, part-timers, and no-timers who traveled to the one city in America no one wanted to be in. Surely, such devotion commands your respect and re-consideration of the importance of their work. As the national conversation moves back to defeating terror, consider the fact that failing to evolve will lead only to our own defeat. These 150 believe their ideas are the backbone of that evolution and it’s time everyone starts believing with them.