At the start of 2021, our country and our world were in great turmoil! Reeling from a global pandemic, struggling with racial injustice, enduring an economy on the blink, and witnessing a continued fight over a contentious presidential election –– yes, we were suffering mightily. Then came the events at our nation’s capitol on January 6th, and it felt as if our country was ‘going to hell in a hand basket.’
My cursory view of all of this, since I tried not to pay too much attention in order to maintain my sanity, implicated Twitter as part of the problem. As the story goes, Twitter was being used as one of the many forums to spew negative and toxic words and opinions. I believe we as a nation are better than that, and I realized I could and should do more to help out the situation, because, like many of you reading this, I am responsible for my country!
On January 11, 2021, I decided to positively impact my corner of the world, my corner of social media, and specifically, my corner of Twitter. I committed to produce daily something uplifting, supportive or positively informative on Twitter. As of this writing, I have been doing that for 80 days and counting.
But that was not enough! I wanted to do more –– so, I started asking the people around me to post positive content to Twitter on a regular basis as well. Their words inspired me and strengthened my commitment to the effort. Additionally, their words and my thoughts started to make me feel better about myself, our community, and our nation. The kind and thoughtful words being shared on a daily or regular basis added fuel to my fire and energized me and many others. As our Twitter activity increased, the ‘impressions’ we were making increased, the ‘followers’ increased and the numbers of people posting their insights and gratitude continued to increase. We were beginning to make a small impact, but I knew we could do more!
At this point, I decided it was time to include our college. I serve as president of Odessa College, one of the most intriguing and innovative colleges in America. We have a wonderful team of people at the college who are always trying to improve and get better, and I am fortunate to serve as their leader. We have a program at Odessa College called ‘OC All In’! The program is designed to bring our college community together so we can make a ‘collective impact’ on our students, each other, our community, and yes, our nation. This program, along with many other innovations, strategies, ideas, and great people, has helped Odessa College to become one of the highest performing community colleges in the U.S.
With the OC All In program serving as our wind gust, we decided to create a ‘Twitter Storm.’ This would be a storm of ‘tweeted’ positivity where everyone at Odessa College, on one particular day, would be challenged to lift up our students, each other, and our community by practicing and sharing our words of gratitude. We were beginning our fourth eight-week term of the academic year, our fourth quarter if you will, and we wanted to add a bit of ‘rocket fuel’ to all of our spirits.
The Twitter Storm went really well, with 318 people from Odessa College sharing 686 Tweets and making a huge ‘impression’ on the nation. At one point during the day, #OCALLIN was the top trending hashtag in the state of Texas. Beyond the numbers, this event brought our campus community together and helped us feel connected and energized toward our common goals during a time when we all feel quite disconnected. It all started here in our community, Odessa, Texas, where we dared to make a positive difference.
While that was good and effective, we still believe we can do more!
We all can easily find the negativity and hate in the world, but there is so much more. There certainly is good in the world and there are many ways we can lift each other up if we choose that path. We at Odessa College want to make looking for and finding the positive, normal. We want to make lifting up and encouraging each other, normal. We want to make pointing out and celebrating exceptional people, normal.
Therefore, we have scheduled our next ‘Twitter Storm’ for April 28th, and we are asking our global community to join us utilizing the hashtag #OdessaAllin. This effort should not and cannot be limited to Odessa College and our students. We challenge our city, our state and our nation to join us in this effort. We need to ‘influence’ the world, one Tweet at a time. Follow us at @OCPresGDW and @OdessaCollege to join our movement!
Gregory Williams is the president of Odessa College.