Myth-busting the 140 Characters Conference

Guest writer, Jacki Halas works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and is a regular blogger for A Healthier Michigan.

The 140 Characters Conference (#140Conf) brought Detroit’s ‘characters’ to the Fillmore Theatre, a fitting meeting ground as the establishment is bursting with character itself.

The event, spawned by social networking site Twitter, transpired like life often does in the micro-blogging space. Diverse, fluid, sometimes random and fast-paced, it was informative and entertaining.

A multitude of Motown’s top Tweet hearts stormed the stage to recount their social success stories. It seemed that every industry, from religion to floral arranging, had its brand ambassador armed with a social media case study to share. And so an array of inspirational, honest and genuine voices filled the iconic theatre with good vibes, hope and suggestions for overcoming negative city stereotypes. Many speakers echoed each other’s sentiments about the need to band together offline to achieve real social change together.

What happens online…stays online?

The #140Conf has a legacy of myth-busting fallacies that exist between online personas and offline behaviors. Here are some of the myths Detroit’s vibrant digital ‘characters’ busted:

Truth: There are gangs in Detroit.

Myth: All gangs are bad.

Meet the landscape renegades: A gang of lawn-mowing enthusiasts who get together and tend to Detroit’s overgrown greenery.

The fact is, when people become engaged, they become invested. Jerry Paffendorf (@WELLO), cofounder and creative director of Loveland, encouraged the crowd to inchvest in his ‘microhood’. He explained that social ownership of land can equate into real social change for a redeveloped, reframed city. He’s partnered with Eric Proulx (@eproulx) to promote the Lemonade Detroit project, which aims to foster and awaken Detroiters’ entrepreneurial spirits, and they invited attendees to join their movement.

Truth: Video killed the radio star.

Myth: Twitter is the new TV.

Twitter may help save TV, digital marketer Charlie Wollborg (@CharlieCurve) stated. Regardless, it does make watching the Lions more fun.

Photo courtesy of Wattyz Photography

It’s also helped TV news anchor Stephen Clark (@sclarkwxyz) engage his viewers in his newscasts in a revolutionary way. Not only does he interact with them in real-time during his newscasts by using the hashtag “#backchannel” on Twitter, but he challenges them to pitch him, and the #backchannel community, with positive news story ideas.

Truth: A Tweet is a fleeting status update.

Myth: It doesn’t matter.

“You could put out one Tweet and have that one thing retweeted a million times”, #140 Conference organizer Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) told the crowd.

Whether you’re into comic books or fashion, unwavering persistence and unmatched passion will help you get where you want to be. Use the social web to your advantage. Make your dreams come true, encouraged Ryan Doyle who is doing just that by helping other people’s dreams come true by way of his nonprofit start-up company Live to Give Foundation (@livetogive).

Truth: Detroit is the home of Motown.

Myth: Michigan’s music scene has peaked.

Home to big names like Kid Rock, Eminem, Madonna; not to mention one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world, Detroit Rock City is known for giving rise to good ear candy. Music enthusiasts like Hubert Sawyers (@hubertgam) are doing what they can to keep Detroit’s music scene fresh and emerging by helping local artists leverage the tech community for promotion and play of their beats and talents.

Truth: Social media is addicting.

Myth: There’s an app for that.

But really, there is an app for that. Internet, namely social media, addiction is a real issue. Though technology is beneficial, it can also cause implications, as a panel of high-school students from Cranbrook mused. So, of course, there’s an app for it. Mark Ostach (@ostach34) created My Mental Space to help you keep your priorities, time, and urges to linger online, in check.

Aside from all of this myth-busting, there were laughter, ambition and networking opportunities abound. A true social media extravaganza at its finest.

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