Leveraging Online Activity Into Offline Action

I think we have gotten a little confused. I know I have. Sometimes I spend so much time in front of my computer and staring at my "smart" phone, I begin to think they can do anything. I log onto Facebook and Twitter and all of a sudden I have a posse of thousands of people. When someone "likes" a post, I am relevant. When someone leaves a "comment," I am engaging my masses. When someone "retweets" my message, I am changing the world! My phone isn't smart, it's a fricken genius!

Actually, no. My phone has silicon for brains and its artificial intelligence is still quite superficial. What I can achieve from my computer and phone's keyboard is important, but limited. Some forgotten soul at some forgotten tech conference once said, "Web 3.0 is about leveraging online activity to drive offline action." Damn, think about that. A cheap tool anyone can use to drive social change -- phenomenal!

I have no idea what Web version we are on now, but we seem to have reached the version where the Web is about "leveraging online activity to drive online action." People are fairly irrelevant in this process.

I want to go back to Web 3.0. I want good old-fashioned online activity to inspire people to do something in the real world.

At Detroit4Detroit, we have been building our social networks for about six months. We have about 750 Fans on our Facebook Page. We have another 1,000+ followers on Twitter. Nearly all of these Fans and Followers are from Detroit, Detroit ex-pats, or have a love for The D. Add to that, 1,500 emails and we have a direct social reach of about 3,500 people. What is my goal -- a reach of 10,000? 100,000?

No, my goal is to find 150 real people to fundraise for 150 real community projects in Detroit. I want them to get physical. Get their hands dirty. Go door to door. Get face-to-face. And leverage online tools as needed to mobilize their friends, family and true social networks to raise the money that is required to provide real people in Detroit real food, health services, and education.

I am thankful for everyone who has joined us on Facebook (and yes, I want you to "like" us too). But I want more. Online activism is only the first step in the ladder of engagement. Sure, the first time you hear of something you "like" it and tweet about it. Then maybe you email your friends about it. Then you talk about it over coffee. Then you show up to an event. And then the magic happens. Then you are inspired and take on the cause as your own. Now you want to do something for your community.

So what are my motives in blogging on Huffington Post Detroit? I appreciate all of you who are reading this. I thank all of you who "like" this post and share it on Facebook and Twitter. But at the end of the day, I write these posts to create a community of readers that when inspired will do something in the real world to make our community, city and world a stronger, more vibrant place to live.

And where will that inspiration come from? Physical interaction -- seeing ordinary people who have done great things. Talking to people just like you who have the same passion to get involved and do what they can to create the community they want to live in.

So after six months of getting social online, let's drive some real world action. Join us on May 17 at Detroit4Detroit's Crank Up the Cause. We will be at Bert's Warehouse in Eastern Market with 20 Detroit nonprofits and our phenomenal co-hosts: WDET, Michigan Corps, Model D, Ponyride, I Am Young Detroit, 71 Pop, CommunityNEXT, Detroit Harmonie, NEW, Imagine Detroit Together, Detroit Young Professionals, The Collaborative Group and Texts from Last Night.

Let's get social. Doing good has never been so much fun.