Friday, March 25, 2011

The Social Challenge

Quick blog post, but something very important to me:

I worked at Special Olympics Missouri for two years as their Public Relations Intern and as their Student Outreach Coordinator. Now, I serve on their Public Relations committee and meet on a bi-monthly basis to come up with new PR and marketing strategies that will further the message of this amazing organization.
Having worked for an organization that serves such an amazing population of individuals, I’ve come to really resent the word R-word It wasn’t a word that I used before working at SOMO, but now more than ever it is a word now that seriously erks me to the core every time I hear someone say it.

I was talking to a close friend and fellow SOMO employee the other day about a party that she went to. Some guy was talking to her and used the R-word. She politely told him that it wasn’t a nice thing to say and please don’t say it around her because of where she works. Even more importantly, Hillary is heading up a Missouri wide campaign to end the use of the R-word and feels very strongly about the cause because of her work with Special Olympics. This guy was indignant and rude and it ended up really bothering H and she had to leave. I’ve fortunately never had to stand up to someone about using the word – usually just saying that you feel passionately about Special Olympics and please don’t use that word around me works. I really respect H for standing up for what she believes in and not backing down to an ignorant, uneducated individual who uses a word with such an awful connotation.

I know this post is a little heavy and a tad bit soap boxy, but I saw a Facebook post by a sorority sister of mine and it made me think of my conversation earlier this week with H. Please go to and look at the live Twitter feed on the left hand side. I went to it and was amazed at how quickly the Tweets were updated and how many people used the R-word so nonchalantly. They say that the R-word is used 24,000 times PER DAY on Twitter. On a public forum where present and future employers can see, they throw this word around like it’s nothing – as if it’s as simple as saying “um” or “like” to fill a void in an otherwise incomplete thought. They drop it to describe themselves, someone they saw at school, someone on the bus, and people with actual intellectual disabilities. Log on to this website and take action against these people. You can actually tweet back to them and tell them to stop. Now, I’m not sure what kind of backlash the Social Challenge will see, but it’s an interesting experiment into exposing people for what they say and do on Twitter and actually having people respond and hold them accountable.

Okay, end of my rant. Back to work. HAPPY FRIDAY.

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