11/22/2012 07:23 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2013

A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong and the Harmonious Connection

Watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

As a cellist this TedTalk from Eric Whitacre struck a chord in me (no pun intended). I am not an accomplished cellist nor do I have a natural predisposition for music.

But I do have a strong appreciation for a medium that, by virtue of its intent, has the power to change emotion and heal minds and souls. It's my escape and the very remedy that consistently cures any stress or strong emotion I'm experiencing. The connectedness of an ensemble, and the amplification of a united piece creates a harmony that goes beyond the music. It's about "dissonance and harmony and shared vision."

I often wonder if a Catholic from Ireland were to connect virtually with a Protestant from Canada. How would their relationship differ than if they had become part of the religious divide within the same city - Hessie Jones

Eric's reference to a woman who had travelled a long way to become a part of the virtual choir was moving. People will go to lengths to become a part of something. But virtualness is also a catalyst for connection. It's part of the human nature to be a social beast: to belong. The context of that tightly-knit participation also served to unite individuals from across the globe in harmony.

I often wonder if a Catholic from Ireland were to connect virtually with a Protestant from Canada. How would their relationship differ than if they had become part of the religious divide within the same city? It would definitely be different because the context has changed. I as a Catholic from Canada do not have the same prejudices or upbringing as another Catholic from Ireland. I, as someone who was brought up in this country don't have the same level of intolerance or experience as those across the ocean. The connection that I have with you may not be one of religion but potentially as someone who shares the same passion for modern art.

"This is an effort that gives back a little humanity in an otherwise brutal world."

I guess what I'm saying is that if governments were to act as conductors as Eric Whitacre had done, to unite individuals from polarized economies and political affiliations -- this dissonance and discord that naturally exists... and to do so in a context that connects and binds the individuals, what an amazing sound that would produce. And as someone on the comments noted: Not often does something like this come together and it is uplifting to see so many come together for a common cause. Eric has demonstrated that we are world citizens and that music can eliminate borders. The potential for this type of collaboration is limitless. For those brief moments their was a small formation of world peace through the language of music.

Context Creates the One Thread to Relationship

I, for one, have witnessed and experienced this: one thread that unites individuals across this ether; one thread that bonds individuals despite the fact they've never really connected or really known holistically about each other. Sometimes, you don't need more than one thread to truly care about someone.

I have written about this story several times but it's my defining moment that moved me and made me believe in the online community. It's the reason why I've become less of a marketer and more of a purist when it comes to social media.

In 2006, I worked for Yahoo! and launched Answers in Canada. While I was in the UK with the Answers team, I received disturbing news that a friend of mine's daughter had passed away. She was only 10 years old and she had struggled with Leukemia since she was diagnosed at age 3. I was saddened and compelled to reach out to her, but comforting her with a sympathy card, like everyone else, was not something I was inclined to do. I remembered a poem that was taped to my mom's refrigerator. It was about a child predeceasing the parent, but I had no idea who the author was or what the words were. My mom retrieved it at a funeral for a friend of mine who passed away when he was only 16. I immediately called my mom from the UK and asked her about it. She didn't remember it. I asked her if she could try to find it. In the meantime, I called my brother and sisters and asked them the same question. None of them knew of it.

I don't know why I was compelled to find that poem. I just knew I had to find it and give it to her. At that time you could not type a full question into Google. Funny, one of my colleagues told me to try Yahoo! Answers. Answers was still fairly new. It was still in beta. There were possibly 5,000 total users since it recently launched in the U.S. At that time, I wasn't really a believer in Social Media. I was a full-fledged marketer who didn't really understand, nor 'wanted" to understand community. But I tried it out since my previous attempts rendered useless.

Here's the question I inputted: My friend's daughter passed away. What poem talks about God giving us his child for a time and may take him back?I don't know the author. I am desperately looking for this poem. It talks about the mother not fretting because the child was here for a while and was happy but will be happy again with God. Can you help?

So I waited. I was told the average response time was about a few hours. I felt like I was looking for a needle in a haystack. I waited but nothing came. Days went by and I was losing hope that I would ever get any resolution.

But then it came. Nine days later. I received notification from my in-box that an answer was found to my question. And when I went to the site, I cried. I couldn't believe it. Someone who didn't know me, who had no idea how I looked like or what I did, took the time to find my "needle" in this giant haystack. I was overshelmed. "Blade", my "Answerer", was my first virtual connection -- an important connection that influenced who I am today. To this day I have no idea who Blade is. We've connected a few times on Answers and I've felt compelled to go beyond the platform and find out more about her. Sadly, I never did. Perhaps one day. But here is the response she wrote to me -- that I've cut and pasted and copied a zillion times so I don't lose it again:

I am not sure about the exact one you are looking for but I found another on the Internet:

"I'll lend you for a little time a child of mine, He said ...
For you to love the while he lives ... and mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two and three,

But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you. And shall his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all from Earth return.
But there are lessons, taught down there, I want this child to learn.

I've looked the wide world over in search for teachers true,

And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you.

Now ... will you give him all your love ... nor think the labor in vain?

Nor ... hate me when I come to call ... to take him back again?

I fancied that I heard you say ... "Dear Lord, it will be done!

"For all the joy Your Child shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run.

"We'll shelter him with tenderness. We'll love him while we may,

"And for the happiness we've known ... forever grateful stay.

"But shall the angels call for him much sooner than we've planned,
"We'll brave the bitter grief that comes ... and try to understand."

Lesson Learned: There is something about this great vastness which divides us, but also has a tendency to also bring us together.

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