I heart social media
by Dara Resnik Creasey
I used to have a love-hate relationship with social media. While I enjoy the ease of keeping in touch with old friends and colleagues, I’m leery of the false selves we project on the Internet. I find we lose time in our devices to the detriment of our real-life relationships. I’ve heard more than once that we ought to call it “anti-social media.”
But on August 1, 2014, something beautiful happened on Twitter. I helped raise $3,440 for Camp del Corazón, which provides year-round opportunities for children with heart disease. The money was raised in a matter of hours by, almost exclusively, the fandom of the show for which I write. And the speed with which they donated the money was, no pun intended, heartwarming. I am still astounded by, grateful for, and in awe of the people that made this happen.
A little history. Last year, I started a new gig as a producer (read: mid-level TV writer) on a long-running ABC procedural called Castle starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. Largely because of Fillion’s longtime online presence, and the forethought of Andrew W. Marlowe, the show’s creator, and Executive Producer Terri Miller, the show had an early jump on building a Twitter community. And what a community it is. Last summer, thanks to Terri’s #FFs (she would “Friday Follow” me, i.e.: she would suggest that others subscribe to my feed), I rapidly amassed several thousand Twitter followers.
I quickly fell in love with these followers, and followed many of them back. I saw pictures of their babies in Castle onesies, and their Christmas trees bedecked with Castle ornaments. More importantly, though, I learned about the bonds the show had forged across countries and continents. People whose relationship began with watching and discussing the show together, but over time became true friends. People who were there for each other through births, graduations, illnesses, and even deaths. Life events.
There are moments in this entertainment existence I’ve chosen that I wonder what good I’m doing for the world. After all, I’m not in the Peace Corps or Teach for America. I’m not a doctor or a social worker. I’m no dummy. There are a lot of good things I could have done with my brain and my hands to make the Earth a better planet. Alas, my brain and hands long to tell stories, and that calling has overtaken any good-doing ambition. But this social media community of folks who love the show I help write have made me feel as if I’m part of something that has made a difference in their lives. That I’m part of something that’s created a true human connection between them. Something that makes them happy. And that, in turn, makes me happy.
One of the most remarkable things about the Castle fans is that they genuinely care about the people behind the scenes of the show. When one of our lighting techs was diagnosed with cancer last season, the online Castle community rallied around him with the hashtag #aVoiceforJay. When I came on the show as a new writer, the fandom became huge promoters of the drama for which I had previously written, Mistresses, and pressed the network in every way they could to pick it up for a second season.
These people are grateful for the work we do as writers on their favorite show. So much so that we started receiving Tweets about taking a picture together. “We want to know what you look like, #Castlewriters,” was a common Tweet that showed up in my notifications. The writers’ room laughed off the request. We are a camera-shy bunch, after all. We became writers, not actors, for a reason. But when one fan offered cold, hard cash for such a photo, it got our heads spinning.
What if we told the fandom that we would take the picture, but only if they donated enough money to a good cause?
One writer has a personal connection to Camp del Corazón, and quickly set up a fundraising page.
Then there was the matter of how much money we thought we could raise. It costs $1500 to send a child to Camp del Corazón for one week, and the camp doesn’t turn anyone away. I thought if we could manage to send close to two campers just for Tweeting a silly picture, then that would be pretty great. Besides, how many people really wanted to see a photo of a bunch of sun-deprived writers anyway? We set a modest $2500 goal, and posted the link to the site around 8 am August 1st. Four hours later, we had reached our goal. By the end of the day, we had raised $3440, most of it from donations of $10 and $20 (though a gigantic thanks to those who donated $50, $100, and $250… your generosity astounded us), from all corners of the globe.
And thus ended my love-hate relationship with social media. Now it’s just love. Love for how it can create friendships. Bring strangers across the planet together for a good cause. It’s powerful. And you can bet we’ll be finding ways to utilize that for Camp del Corazón again in the coming months. If the fans donated all that money for Tweeting a simple picture, imagine what we might be able to raise for a Vine…
To donate to Camp del Corazón, which provides year-round opportunities for children with heart disease, please visit here.Tags: #aVoiceforJay, #Castlewriters, Andrew W. Marlowe, Camp del Corazón, Castle (TV show), Castle fandom, Dara Resnik Creasey, Hollywood making a difference, Power of social media, Television writers, Terri Miller, Twitter community