Hello reader! How rare you are in this 21st century technology soaked media world! You are reading this article on paper which was delivered by snail mail to your post office box. According to the Pew Research Center, “the percent of Americans who say they read a print newspaper continues to drop, falling 18 points over the last decade to 23%”. I’m in that 23% myself. My days begin with the Amarillo Globe News. Front to back and finishing with the Sudoku puzzle. All in all, maybe an hour of my day is gone. I feel this is a productive use of my time as I gain a well-rounded knowledge of happenings in Amarillo, the panhandle, Texas and nationally. The Herald still provides me with community happenings. The school, city and county minutes are an important read for me, and engagements and weddings just don’t seem official until the couples’ pictures appear in the Herald. And Reader, my guess is you are over 40 and that you too count on the Herald for community news.
I am now 51, and I do have at least one foot in the 21st century. I have an iPhone and I know how to use it. It’s great for talking, texting (Yes, I know how.) and photos. I don’t tweet, Instagram or take selfies, but I could if I wanted. Even though I get Facebook notifications ALL day, I ignore them, choosing to log on in the evening for a quick scroll down through the posts. Facebook is just too much stuff. It reminds me of being back in high school, way before technology, returning to school after an absence and my friends in front of me blurting every little thing that I had missed. Biggest difference is my friends blurted out everything I “needed” to know face to face in minutes compared to the 24/7 continuous feed social media provides today. Probably the best thing about social media and technology in communication is its ability to reach millions in seconds. This means smiles produced because of joys shared and prayers said for those dealing with life’s troubles are significantly multiplied. And make no mistake, when one needs a message out…there is no better method than via internet.
I know these powers and capabilities of technology. I also know that attention paid to this bombardment of information is a sizable drain of “brain” time and productivity lost to content and conversations focusing on the “now” of people and events and rarely knocking on the door of exploring ideas or working towards solutions. When I was young, my uncle Jay Bob shared a quote with me that became a favorite of mine: “Small minds talk about people. Average minds talk about events. Great minds talk about ideas.” Scrolling through Facebook leaves me hungry for ideas and creative problem solving.
Also, as a result of using texting, emailing and social media as a replacement for ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversation, people are lacking in their written and verbal communication skills. Studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word. A whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language. There is no denying face-to-face conversation is the most authentic way to deliver a message. Texting, emailing and social media are now an overused replacement for ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversation. I see these replacements as consuming the attention of young and old alike. Attention that was once paid to meaningful “you look at me and I look at you” conversations. Those of us who are older know and research shows, better comprehension of the message is achieved by observing the facial expressions and body language present as the message is delivered. Also, many life lessons are to be learned through the experience of “face to face” conversation.
I still remember a time in high school when our choir teacher, Mrs. Purvines, had arranged for us to sing for the Lion’s Club downtown during lunch. In order to be where I was needed, I would have to ask Coach Adams if I could leave 4th Period Athletics a little early. I couldn’t get up the nerve to ask, so I let Mrs. Purvines down as well as the other choir members by not being where I was expected. (And, I got in a lot of trouble from Mrs. P., Coach Adams and my mom and dad.) In hind sight, I feel certain if I could have by-passed that face-to-face encounter with Coach Adams and just texted or Facebook messaged him, I would have been where I needed to be that day. I learned much growing up through entering in face-to-face conversation, and so today, even in my haste, I know if the message and its reception are important, they need to be delivered in person.
Following a recent Panhandle Inn grant rejection, I realized the power of delivering a message in person when our grant was unable to communicate through written word our unfailing determination to see the renovation of the Panhandle Inn through. The Panhandle Inn Foundation’s rejection letter came from the Mary E. Bivins Foundation in Amarillo. After corresponding with their grants coordinator for weeks in working to prepare the most complete application, our board was devastated. In asking the coordinator where the Inn’s application fell short, she replied that her board felt Panhandle lacked the ability to raise the necessary $4 million for the complete renovation. What we had tried to communicate on paper had no facial expressions or body language. “Panhandle, People of Pride and Purpose” had no face-to-face voice. No fault of the Bivins’ Board, but they don’t know us. They don’t know that when we get our teeth stuck in, there is no letting go. We needed to be able to sit down with the Bivins’ Board and share with them our ideas and our plans for accomplishment face to face.
As I thought about the rejection and the inability to represent Panhandle’s determination and ambition on paper, I began to consider the power of social media. The recent Ice Bucket Challenge came to my mind. What a great call to action for a most worthy cause. Sure to be 2014’s top social media campaign, the Ice Bucket Challenge was started by an athlete diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). The challenge has received national attention, raised awareness of this fatal neurodegenerative disease, and as of Aug. 26 had received $88.5 million in donations compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year. Participants should feel proud for giving of their time and money to promote finding a cure for this fatal disease and to having put their efforts towards a cause worthy of collaborated efforts. In a time when our nation is in severe unrest and seems split on so many issues, the success of this campaign is refreshing as its success was at the hands of all walks of life, old and young alike participating for the good of something far greater than the here and now.
Now you are probably asking yourself where Julie is going with all this. The short answer is: At our next board meeting, September 9th, the Panhandle Inn Foundation will entertain hiring a professional fund raiser to increase our fund raising capabilities. In the meantime, I challenge all of you “great minds” to give the Panhandle Inn some creative thought. The raising of $4 million from within our community is difficult at best. With a creative social media challenge, all PHS exes who have prospered due to their PHS education and life lessons learned here in Panhandle and residents that have now moved on but still hold Panhandle in their hearts can join our efforts. The Panhandle Inn needs a creative social media challenge which will bring the people of Panhandle together no matter where they live. Let’s use social media for something much bigger than the “here and now”. A successful campaign would help foundations and other potential contributors to “know us” and to feel confident in their investment in our project. Social media can join efforts to SAVE THE INN.
Thank you for reading my thoughts and ideas. The Panhandle Inn Foundation welcomes any and all ideas for meeting our community’s goal of raising $4 million for the complete historic adaptive reuse renovation of the Panhandle Inn.
Together WE CAN DO THIS!
SAVE THE INN!
President Panhandle Inn Foundation