First off, I have no idea how this stunt will go. It’s success entirely on you and others like you. If it’s not for you, I understand. I trust you to choose for yourself.
Some background first: I won’t take much of your time. I’m too busy today to take that much time writing, as it turns out. Two days ago, I published a (very) quickly produced post called Miss Colorado Versus The View: She Matters. They Don’t. The response has been overwhelming, one of the biggest I’ve experienced after over 1600 posts. Thanks! I’m always eager for an opportunity to inspire and motivate nurses to stand up for themselves and gather their power. Certain events attract offer a vastly larger audience for certain messages. Now is such a time, but it’s not likely to last forever, so I’m rushing a bit. What’s the saying? Strike while the iron is hot. That’s the best time to make a difference.
I haven’t been doing social media long. Roughly speaking, I blogged etc. for a year, got into nursing activism early on, worked far too hard, burnt out, quit for a year, and I’ve been back for a year. I learn as I go, try lots of different things. My audience the first time around was tiny. This time around, it’s still tiny but bigger. Persistence is great stuff, right? Some of my efforts have worked out surprisingly well. Others, not so much. I’ve also done some research: what’s possible with social media? What have the big successes looked like?
In Hierarchies Aren’t Forever: Nurses, People, and Power, I described some of my earlier work. More important, in Modern Davids and Goliaths: Underdog Victories, I reviewed past successes, not mine, alas, from Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. He describes how powerless people can use Social Media to change history. These tools offer us little people a shot at power and influence: cheap, fast, potent, and unpredictable. Today, we all have better communication tools than anyone did 20 years ago, even the most powerful folks on earth. Mr. Shirky provides an impressive of little people with little resources who managed to defeat huge corporations, churches, and governments using social media tools.
Today, I’ll discuss the example that inspired this post. When CBS canceled the TV show Jericho, angry fans sent CBS peanuts in the mail, thus alluding to WWII American General McAuliffe’s famous reply to German surrender demands in the Battle of the Bulge:“Nuts!” McAuliffe was victorious in the end, as were these fans. After CBS received TWENTY TONS of peanuts and a heavy dose of embarrassment, they renewed the show. Who had the most power here, do you think? Not CBS. Fans with peanuts spontaneous and rapidly traded powerless to unstoppable.
The lesson? For today, I’ll stick to two. One: Find a way to inspire lots of people to even trivial action, and you can send a powerful message without a budget or much of an organization. Two: with today’s lazy and ratings-driven news media, outrageous works: it gathers the attention that makes a topic “newsworthy.” Once you reach a threshold, you get TV talking heads reacting to each others comments, and a huge spike in influence.
Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” The View stupidly decided to casually disrespect nurses and nursing. Since then, they’ve decided they don’t like all the bad publicity, so they’ve offered fake respect and fake apologies. I hope to help The View and everyone else on TV learn a lesson, to never forget this event, and never feel comfortable making the same mistake again. Given the model I’ve chosen, success is possible only with some drama, something media folks can’t resist. Here it is:
In the next 24 hours, I will post a video. In it, I’ll show my gift to ABC, which I will mail to their corporate headquarters. It will be a clear bottle full of fake poop. Mud should suffice. It will come with this message:
- “Flush the View,” and
- “Nurses await ABC’s plans for this program. Actions have consequences.”
Tasteless, unprofessional? Reasonable arguments, but there’s some symbolism involved. Nurses deal with real shit every day, both real and metaphoric. We matter, because what we do matters. Folks on The View take perfectly good electricity and oxygen and convert it into crap. They send us crap, we send it back. Also, I see no reason to offer these folks much respect. If they become our enemies, I find that outcome a plus. So far, they’ve fired nurses up rather well. If we embarrass them, fine. If we hit the jackpot and kill The View, even better in my opinion.
For those who find the poop bottle too much, feel free to send a letter instead, or whatever else you can think of. Let’s make a noise together and teach everyone – everyone! – that if you kick a nurse in the shins, you get to hear nurses roar. We have each others’ backs, and we’re everywhere.
I’m eager to hear your response to this proposal, and any ideas you have, because you matter, and your ideas matter.