New media for the young altruist–find meaning in life…and a job

November 30, 2007 by Jared Goralnick

Today was spotted with conversations from friends who want to save the world but just don’t know how. They’ve followed the path–good schools, grades, and jobs–but haven’t felt they could make a difference. My advice for them: new media.

I’m not going to lie–I’d long stereotyped marketing, communications, and public relations as necessary evils, at best. They’re rarely attention-grabbing, not usually great writing, and brand awareness is about as far as most of them get. But my opinion has somewhat changed in the last few years, especially since I heard Seth Godin speak (and enjoyed Purple Cow). Godin’s creative approach to marketing made it fun for me…and the internet is what made it much more accessible and effective.

I’d always seen the internet as a place to find your voice and to be heard. I’d always seen web design and web development as the tools to get online and make an impact. However, understanding and applying the connectivity of the internet–its inherent community–is what can really make a change. If someone wants to make a difference, they ought to learn how to use the web to spread their message.

Armed with an understanding of the sites, methods, and tools (outlined in many places, such as Now is Gone), one can spread their own beliefs or make a huge impact at their employer. So many people end up doing clerical or mundane work at the not-for-profit that they believe in so deeply…when new media offers an inexpensive way to garner attention, build membership, raise awareness, and bring in funding for that same organization.

So if you or a young altruist is wondering what you need to distinguish yourself from other candidates, learn how to spread messages online and you’ll be infinitely more valuable. If you’re passionate about making an impact, you just need to understand the vehicles…and so do your potential employers. Find them online and make a difference.

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2 Responses to “New media for the young altruist–find meaning in life…and a job”


  1. Kimi

    During one of the aforementioned conversations with thwarted do-gooders, the topic of personality traits came up. Perhaps the most important, I think, are empathy and restraint. The first key step in leveraging social media (to this unrefined technological eye) is to understand the common desires of the massive number of people who contribute to this online community, to empathize with this audience and understand them enough to find the next constructive step that all or most of them want to take. This involves sensing what worries are present in this particular target community at this particular point (such as being prey to false information) and assuaging those worries, as well as finding out what they’re hoping for (such as an effective and simple way to change the world for the better) and showing them a step that helps them and your not-for-profit. Restraint, however, comes in when you have to slow yourself down because you’re focusing on one goal that is (so far?) only tangential to this community’s life. Perhaps I should exercise some of this restraint in the length of this post ;^).

  2. Jared Goralnick

    Hi Kimi,

    Thanks for your thoughts here. You’re right that there are some personality traits that help. But the more I think about this, the more I realize the most important step is not so much restraint as participation. You have to want to get the word out all the time, and to participate where others’ are speaking about your passion.

    At a certain point there will be enough attention that you have to be choose-y about what you say, but the first step is just to start talking. And, imnsho, your personality lends itself to that.

    So don’t worry about restraining yourself, just get out there and start getting involved!

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