On this Thanksgiving it is of course appropriate I show some gratitude in my blog post. In this case, I am proud to present my list of social media MVPs!
A bit of explanation is in order to begin with.
This list was difficult to compile. I started thinking about it in early October. It is not even close to an exhaustive list of online friends and acquaintances that I appreciate. That list would indeed run very long. Too long for a blog post. So instead I present a rather particular list. Those that do not appear on it are of course not without value, and I hope that is clear. I didn't want to create a popularity contest. Simply to make sure on this day of thanks that I acknowledge those who have meant the most to me in 2011, in various different categories.
To narrow down the list even further, I decided that the list would include only people that I met initially through some sort of social media. Twitter, blogging, or, back when I was still active there, Brazen Careerist. I also limited those in this list to people I have known for at least the entirety of 2011.
Nor do I want anyone to assume that I am necessarily on intimate, personal terms with everyone on this list. With some I am, and with others it is more professional, or distant. But in all cases, each person mentioned has made what I am calling a positive, sustained impact on me or on some aspect of my life in 2011.
I present the list of nine individuals in no particular order. I hope each of them will accept my deep and sincere gratitude for whatever part they played in my perceptions and observations in the last year. I hope that if you don't already follow these folks on Twitter, or read their blogs, that you will consider doing so after reading this.
Here we go. My 2011 Most Valuable Players from social media are as follows:
J. Maureen Henderson
One of the very first people that paid attention to this blog, and took it seriously. From the beginning, though with much more intensity this year, she has pushed me professionally, and is directly responsible for at least some of my online success this year. (I never would have heard of the site in which a piece of mine appeared this year without her telling me about it, and encouraging me to send something to same.)
But she does these things without sacrificing acceptance of my personal eccentricities and concerns. She may not ever understand why I think much of what I think, but unlike many within the internet career advice circle, she has never made me feel of less value for thinking it.
I admire her motivation and determination, even if I have yet to replicate them myself.
@GenerationMeh on Twitter
One of the kindest, warmest people I have met through social media. Her personal support and constant friendship over this year has buoyed my spirits at times when they have been low, (such as the last month or so.) If she doesn't consider herself an optimist, it is certainly quite easy for others to assume she is one, as the bright side is always more apparent when talking to her. At times the most valuable commodity a person can give to someone else is a reminder that they still matter. Becky has provided and continues to provide me that.
@bbenishek on Twitter
The only one of my social media contacts that I have met in person so far. Though I suspect that my introverted, quiet, and sometimes withdrawn personality probably resulted in my being quite the disappointment to her and her friends earlier this spring when I attended her smashing birthday party, the whole experience as well as her graciousness in hosting me for the whole weekend did have a major impact on me this year. She reminded me of the importance of spontaneity, trying new things, and of trusting someone else to guide the action sometimes.
And the reason I began to read her blog and follow her on Twitter in the first place was her thoughts on the writing life. Not just the nature of the actual prose, but the style of her observations and analysis on everyday topics. A writer who doesn't know how to observe doesn't know how to write, and Laryssa's knack for observation and dissemination has inspired the writer aspect of me this year.
@ryssiebee on Twitter
Noel has been an outspoken supporter of my blog and other writings. Her expression of appreciation for my writings this year has gone beyond simple stroking of my ego. She has confirmed that I have accomplished with my writing one of the goals I consider most important and most gratifying; I have made her think. She also has admired my candor. Knowing that I have had such an important impact on such a professional, intelligent fellow writer just by being honest and well written has done me a great service this year, and I am grateful to her for it.
@NoelRozny on Twitter
The Thawer Sisters
Mehnaz and Zoyah. (I flipped a coin to determine which of them I would list first.)
On Twitter I call them the "Sisters of Asskicking", though I of course recognize that they are not some amalgam. They are two individuals, each with their own unique perceptions and lives. I don't overlook that. Yet I include them both here in one section because it is their team work, the nature of their relationship, and the way they both counteract one another's weaknesses while complimenting one another's strengths that makes them as a unit so valuable.
In them, I see perhaps the single greatest example of the yin-yang concept known to me personally. Through their differences and their similarities, (neither of which they are shy about sharing with the internet via twitter and their blog) I am reminded that nobody can be shoehorned into their own personality, including myself. The obvious love they have for one another despite the opposing nature of their personalities is something I envy…I do not share that with most of my siblings. I do not even get along with most of mine. So they are refreshing and encouraging to me, both when they are getting along, and the few times they are (quasi-publicly) not getting along for a time.
Speak Softly and Carry a Red Pen (Mehnaz's Blog)
@mehnazt on Twitter
Two Spectacles (Their joint blog.)
@zoyahthawer on Twitter
The nature of her writing success is probably the best example of where I myself would like to be someday. (Meaning her marketing skills and clips are enviable to this writer, who has at present, almost none.)
But it isn't simply her high rate of writing success that makes her an MVP. I know many successful writers. It is her humanity and lack of pretense about it. My default position, I will admit, is to recoil from people who are highly successful in the same field as I am trying to conquer. They are more often than not difficult to relate to, inaccessible, and overall not easy for me to get to know. Their rags to riches stories annoy me more than inspire me.
Yet with Steph Auteri I was finally able to see a successful writer as a human being much like myself, with difficulties and worries of their own. She of course is not the only one, and by now I have met a few more like her. Yet her initial and continued willingness to share herself, her story, and to include me sometimes in same have gone a long way in altering for the better my feelings towards those of the same level of success as she.
@stephauteri on Twitter
I first met her even before I joined Twitter, or had this blog. (She in fact was one of the people that sold me on Twitter, though I still remain less impressed by it than she initially promised. ;) )
Not only does Melissa have an enviable amount of drive, energy, and marketing savvy, I am personally grateful for the time she has dedicated to sharing with and explaining to me certain concepts of her success. It is my own thick head, and not her lack of effort that causes some of the concepts she has related to me to elude me even now. (Especially when it comes to the nature of the internet.)
Yet she has allowed me to be a part of Moxy Mag, a project that is of great importance to her, and in so doing has given me a bit more focus during times when I had none. I value my small contributions to her "baby", and hope I can continue to meet the expectations she has been kind enough to have of me.
@MelissaBreau on Twitter
Moxymag.com (The zine she published.)
Quite literally one of the world's foremost Shakespearean scholars, as well as an ordained minister and intellectual. Despite his undoubtedly busy schedule he has often taken time to comment upon my activities, and to inquire as to same. It is that generosity of spirit and time from this gentleman of academic prominence that I am grateful. How easy it would be in his position to turn his nose up at anyone, yet how thoroughly unlike him that would be. He reminds me that I should not hesitate to approach or speak to anyone in any position, so long as I feel I have something worthy to say.
@Paul_Edmonsdon on Twitter
I hope my list has convinced each of these people, if there were unsure of it by now, how much I value their advice, or friendship, or observations, or simple presence. Each is very different from one another, and yet they all possess that quality of generosity in some form or another which I appreciate. Especially on this day of Thanksgiving here in the United States.