One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter

Surviving the Metra Lollapalooza COVID Express

leave a comment »

Lollapalooza officially ends today, and I am personally grateful for a variety of reasons. After all, I was around when Lollapalooza started as a touring show that was merely corporate-sponsored pandering led by a spoiled, entitled musician whose then-latest hit served as a paean to shoplifting. However, coming home from a friend’s showing at the Fulton Street Collective meant taking the Metra Rock Island line home…and dealing with a throng of young Lollapalooza attendees who were…

Well, I live tweeted it, and here’s a timeline for your reading pleasure. And yes, you can offer thoughts and prayers as I express what happened without sounding ageist or entitled.

Saturday, 9:15 pm – I arrive at the Metra LaSalle Street station. The waiting area is filled with mostly adults. It’s quiet, and the 10:00 pm train appears to be on time. Sitting down, I relax and look forward to a relatively peaceful ride home.

Saturday, 9:30 pm – Heading outside, I enjoy the cooler air of a summer evening in Chicago. Nothing seems to be going wrong except for a possible delay in the train’s arrival.

Saturday, 9:40 pm – The first of the Lollapalooza crowd begins showing up, and soon they’re dominating the platform. As you can see by the photos above, none of them are wearing masks. Within fifteen minutes, I decide to double-mask for my own safety.

Saturday, 10:04 pmAs two trains finally arrive, Metra employees encourage a single line to check passes before boarding the train. Lollapalooza attendees force their way through, ignoring directions and waving cell phones in people’s faces. As I board the car, I sit in one of the front most seats.

Four minutes later, I perform a rough headcount: the car contains approximately 30 people, only six (including myself) are over 35. Only four people (including myself) are wearing masks. As public transportation, Metra falls under the federal mask mandate.

Saturday, 10:11 pm – I’m reminded of the irony of attending Raks Inferno on Friday night: the troupe (and home venue Newport Theater) held a limited capacity, vax-only show that turned away two people. Afterwards, on the way home, a throng of Lollapalooza-based motorcyclists defied traffic laws and performed wheelies only seen in high-end action movies. (And which never end well)

I say this because I tweeted that Mayor Lightfoot should have canceled Lollapalooza. After all, reentry should have been more cautious, and businesses should not take precedence over public health…but I digress.

(Yes, my Tweeting takes on a slightly sarcastic tone, but it was my way of documenting what was happening, as well as allowing myself some self-soothing. But I felt it worth discussing in light of current COVID-19 trends in Chicago and the state of Illinois)

Saturday, 10:16 pmTwo Metra employees enter our car and announce that if anyone is getting off at a stop in Beverly (my home neighborhood since I became Mom’s caregiver), we need to move “two cars up”. Ten of us rise and walk through two cars. We ask if it’s the Beverly car…and we’re told it’s the next car up.

Barnard Park, Chicago
Barnard Park – Photo by Gordon Dymowski

We moved through five Metra cars (almost the entire length of the train) in order for the doors to open for us to get off. Although the number of people in each car dwindled, many of them were from Lollapalooza and did not wear masks. None of the Lollapalooza crowd looked sober, and one drunkenly told me I was “fired” and offered a fist bump. I refused. We eventually made it to the front car, and sitting down, simply waited for my stop.

Saturday, 10:29 pmAs the Metra train began its end run towards home, I felt concerned about that evening’s sleep and ruminated on my past. In my past career in social services, I’ve worked in a variety of rough situations (including a St. Louis-area office in the basement of an infamous housing development). I never felt as uncomfortable (or threatened with illness) as I did on that train ride.

Saturday, 10:37 pmAs my train gets closer to my home station, I realize that I smell something a bit…odd, and look at the seats in front of me. Three young women are talking, and one of them is vaping. (I am unsure if this is allowed on Metra trains, but say nothing).

At the stop before mine, two of the women depart the train. The last one – the woman who was vaping – looks at me and says blankly, “I’m lonely.” I keep silent and get up as we approach my stop.

Saturday 11:00 pmAfter successfully disembarking from the train and arriving home, I chose to update Twitter with a note of gratitude. The next morning, I managed to provide a follow-up Tweet. All was relatively well.

Although this essay may seem rather over-the-top, there have been genuine concerns about Lollapalooza becoming a superspreader event like a recent festival in the Netherlands. With COVID rates increasing in the city, the Mayor’s press for further vaccinations is a smart move…but holding Lollapalooza was ill-advised. Metra shares part of the responsibility for not rigorously enforcing the rules…

But holding Lollapalooza in the first place was a bad move. In not canceling the show, Mayor Lightfoot demonstrated a greater concern for corporate and business interests than the welfare of the city. She’s scheduled to provide a COVID update on Monday at 10:00 am at City Hall. Don’t be surprised if the evades questions about why she let Lollapalooza go on.

The answer’s obvious.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading.


Written by gordondym

August 1, 2021 at 8:48 pm

Roseanne, Samantha Bee, and Free Speech

leave a comment »

Like many of you, I have been following news about Roseanne and Samantha Bee getting in trouble for making comments on Twitter. One made flat-out racist comments; the other used a questionable word. The result has been a lively, passionate discussion about free speech on Twitter. (As well as a correlating number of flat-out troll reactions). But I can bring a unique perspective: I have watched both women on television. I have seen Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, as well as most of the episodes of the Roseanne revamp, and their Twitter activities – in one case, gracefully, in another, sadly – reflects the tone and tenor of their work.

Let’s look at Samantha Bee’s infamous use of the “C-word” – let’s be honest: she’s used it on her show before and it’s been appropriately bleeped out. Remove it from this (or any other context), and she manages to make a serious point. (To be even more specific: how Ivanka could celebrate her being a mother when her father’s policies are encouraging the separation of children from their families at the border). Could she have made the same point without using that word? Of course. But Samantha Bee was exercising her right to free speech…and she is embracing the consequences.


Several sponsors have dropped out from her show. Samantha Bee has apologized for her statement in public (and on Twitter) multiple times. But at a time when criticizing the current Presidential administration is openly avoided (especially by the mainstream media) and key issues are often ignored or dismissed, turning Samantha Bee into a scapegoat seems hardly appropriate or worthwhile. (And an irrelevant side note: Samantha Bee once guest-starred on an episode of Law & Order that featured a television personality, inappropriate behavior, and prescription drugs. You should be able to catch it on Ion Television Wednesday mornings).

But when we discuss Roseanne’s tweet, in which she claims that an African-American leader is the result of interspecies breeding (to put it mildly)…there’s no way you can separate what she said from any larger point. (In other words, Roseanne’s tweet was merely posted as a mild insult in itself). And Roseanne’s post-tweet behavior – quitting Twitter, then blaming it on Ambien (resulting in the drug company disavowing racism as a side effect) and doubling down on her sense of outrage and wish to have her show uncanceled isn’t just immature…it’s part of her overall pattern of avoiding responsibility.0530-ctm-roseannecanceled-duthiers-1579923-640x360

I should know – I grew up during the first iteration of her sitcom.

I rarely, if ever, watched it – after all, many people in my family were like the Conners, and that’s not a compliment. (When her series finale was on the air, I ignored it in favor of the Doctor Who TV Movie, and then the Chicago Bulls playoff after that. I do not regret my choices). Whether it was fighting with producer Matt Williams, her short-lived marriage to Tom Arnold, or even her claims to a less-than-pleasant past, Roseanne has tended to engage in a similar pattern of behavior:

  • Make outrageous statements and claims, leading to public criticism
  • Provide a weak-willed apology that provides some rationalization/justification for her behavior, and
  • Continue to portray herself as the victim without any willingness to make positive change

And that’s before some of her more recent history of making outrageous claims, including calling a former Presidential candidate the “c-word”.

First, there’s an appropriate way to apologize, which writer John Scalzi outlines in his blog. But more importantly, this has implications for how issues of “free speech” are changing. After all, when we have a President making outrageous claims on Twitter and a media climate that focuses more on that than actual policy issues, does the First Amendment still hold sway?Flip_Flop_Social_Media_Icons_by_EffBomb

Yes, it does, because freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism or freedom from consequences.
For example, I can honestly state that after watching Samantha Bee and Roseanne’s new show…Samantha Bee takes huge chances when examining key political issues from a woman-centric perspective. However, having seen most of Roseanne’s reboot  I can honestly say that Roseanne’s show is a poorly-written, pandering pile of garbage that only serves as self-created fan fiction to assuage a fragile ego.

Seriously – plots have taken sudden twists (for example, Becky lies about her age in order to sell an egg for money…but turns out to be infertile. Two episodes have ended with variations on “you’re weird, but we love you anyway.”) One episode even suggested that living in a disaster area is a good thing because FEMA money would save them. (Let’s also include tone-deafness, especially amidst reports that Puerto Rico’s death toll has been sorely underestimated). But the pilot episode, where Roseanne’s sister calls her out on bullying and Roseanne’s response is “…Because I know what’s best for everybody”) sets the tone. In short, the Roseanne revival serves as a last-ditch effort for an aging star to maintain relevancy rather than find a new outlet.

Having said all that, I fully expect there to be criticism either in the comments below or via our Facebook page. Some will even “troll” me via my Twitter account with all the usual right-wing catchphrases to indicate how much lesser I am than they are…but that’s the power of the First Amendment: the President can’t call for a television show to be canceled (as he has with Samantha Bee) or provide “state-sanctioned” approval (like Roseanne). And even I have been trolled on Twitter by a PR agency who objected to a claim that buying Twitter followers was a “false tactic”.  But that’s the truth of free speech on social media – responses are immediate, and there are frequent consequences. It takes courage and dignity to face those consequences professionally.

Roseanne has publicly stated that she has felt “thrown under a bus”. But the great thing about free speech is that we can see that she did it to herself. And she’s reluctant to face the consequences.

But Samantha Bee? Handling it like a professional.

Written by gordondym

June 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

Slizzered on Twitter: Social Media Lessons Part 2

leave a comment »

(Revised on July 19th, 2022)

Last week’s post on Twitter created a nice groundswell of interest – so much so that we even received a slight increase in traffic…and increased comments. This week, we’ll see how one of these comments provided a wealth of really good lessons for Chicago-area non-profits, social change agents, and other mission-driven organizations.

(We’re placing a nice gallery of screenshots below that you can review since this is going to be quite a lengthy post)

So after posting last week, I received an interesting comment…mostly because it directed me to an agency that encouraged me to “buy” Twitter followers. (Don’t worry – the comments have since been removed, but not before I took a screen capture, thanks to my Ubuntu-powered ToughBook).

But I was curious – after all, what was this company promising me? I don’t believe in purchasing Twitter followers – it’s like populating a theater with mannequins before you put on Hamilton. Sure, the audience won’t boo at your Richard III….but they won’t exactly cheer, either.

So I did a bit of Google magic, and did some digging, and….well, here’s what I found:

  • Their website contains a lot of self-congratulatory text, but quite honestly, there are no strong case studies.  (Probably because there are no case studies) Even their “reviews” are from user names who focus more on the results than, say, what those results brought. (Did greater users mean greater reach? Greater sales? Greater click-through rates or conversions?)
  • Their fine print and disclaimers were hard to find….and just a hint: putting gray text on white is never a good idea. (03/30/2014 Edit – Since the owners of the site had expressed concerns about the accuracy of this post, I am removing their agency name from this post. But I stand behind the accuracy of my statement…and yes, you can find their name in the slideshow below.)
  • For a company that brags about how their “proprietary technology” will increase your followers….and expects you to purchase their services, without understanding the strategic or tactical side of social media. 
  • Oh, and the commenter who started this? She returned and made disparaging comments about our online status…as if social media were simply a numbers game. As of 3/31/2014, I’m removing any and all reference to them, since my criticism has unduly affected their search optimization efforts….and quite simply, social media professionals need to hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior. So in that spirit, I’m focusing on principles over personalities.

What’s my point, you may ask? Too often, non-profit marketing consultants emphasize the fact that 1) they are wonderful and know social media, and 2) they believe non-profits should use social media to “build awareness”.

That’s only part of the puzzle: non-profits should be using social media to foster an aware, engaged audience of advocates. It means doing some of the difficult work of investing time and effort – providing insights into their operation, thinking through how their mission impacts the general public, and not falling into the “gee, whiz” mode of believing social media is a cure-all and end all.

Want an example: let me give you two – Chicago Red Cross and PAWS Chicago. They provide great lessons in how non-profits engage via social media. They rarely engage in the kind of (in this blogger’s opinion) falsely leading tactics of buying and selling followers as a shortcut to social media “popularity”.

And neither one will leave you slizzered.

Comments? Please feel free to leave them below. Want to reach me directly? Contact me either via Linked In or direct e-mail. (All contact information can be found via the About page). And please feel free to follow us on Facebook.

As always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

January 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Don’t Get Slizzered On Twitter: Social Media Lessons in Pop Culture

leave a comment »

Now that we’re cleaning up from the holidays and the recent “snowmageddon”, it’s time for all good social change agents to get back to work and reengage their constituents. However, One Cause At A Time would like to help you with two lessons in handling social media – specifically, Twitter – by providing two great lessons from pop culture on avoiding getting seriously slizzered. (Yes, this week’s post features celebrity cameos, for your entertainment and learning pleasure!)

Because sometimes, even the professionals get it horribly wrong.

Neil Patrick Harris' Honda Tweet

Early in December, Neil Patrick Harris, known for his diverse range of roles (but we’ll forever call him “Doogie”) tweeted that he had received a new maxivan from Honda as an early Christmas gift. Smart move on Honda’s part: recruit a well-known celebrity, give him a sample product, and allow him to make testimonials about the product to his followers. Sounds ideal, right?

Well, if you catch the responses while scrolling down, you’ll find that there is some outrage – after all, families are struggling in this economy, and they might be better candidates to receive complimentary transportation than Dr. Horrible. (Personally, I would nominate the co-hosts of this comics and pop culture podcast, but I would stand to gain personally….and there are even worthier candidates for free cars). Although many celebrities have large followers, Twitter is best used for conversation – not pushing an ideal message. So one lesson is to think through the potential consequences of a tweet – even non-profits pushing their mission can risk a backlash. (Although the best example of a non-profit handling a bad tweet well remains the ever popular phrase “getting slizzered”.)

But more appropriately, part of the concern is a lack of disclosure. According to the FTC’s Disclosure Guidelines, anyone who blogs/posts/tweets about receiving complimentary products needs to disclose that fact. (It’s really simple to do – just check out any of the book reviews on this blog). All it would have taken for Mr. Harris to disclose are five simple characters: #spon. (Or if he was pressed for space, three characters: #ad.) Companies like CMP.LY provide guidance and tools for both companies and users to follow the rules, but disclosing when you receive free things isn’t just a good idea for transparency….it’s the law.

(For non-profits, social enterprises, and other mission-driven organizations, you definitely want to look at other potential rules and regulations about disclosure. Some consultants might tell you that this is not important, and that driving “awareness” is the primary goal of social media, but trust me – it will help you avoid problems in the future. Especially around “getting slizzered”.)

But on a related note, let’s talk about hashtag use – you know, when you use the “pound sign” to highlight key words. In Twitter, this can be a great way to find key conversations. (For example, enter #cnblog into Twitter search to find more great posts from my fellow Chicago Now bloggers. However, many Twitter users – in order to gain attention – tend to overdo it. So you’ll frequently see tweets that look like this:

#cnnow #bloggers #weareawesome #noketchuponhotdogs #bringonthesnowmageddon #writing #chicago #slizzercity

The result is something that looks cluttered and sounds ridiculous. Or, as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, long-time readers of One Cause At A Timedemonstrate the destructiveness of hashtag overuse via this YouTube educational video.

(Note: To the best of my knowledge, neither Mr. Timberlake nor Mr. Fallon read this blog. But I would like to thank Steve Heye for the link to the video)

Here’s something to remember: one #hashtag is a clever attention getter, two #hashtags can be a smart way to gain attention, but three or more #hashtags is the equivalent of TYPING IN ALL CAPS, or shouting in the public library. It’s obnoxious, discourteous, and quite frankly avoids conversation….which is the primary goal of social media.

Although there’s a lot of great information about engaging with Twitter and other social media channels, many people find it confusing or misleading. Thankfully, One Cause At A Time is not only here to help educate, but thanks to special celebrity cameos, I think we’ve worked to help make Twitter a little easier. In 2014, part of what we’ll be working towards is helping non-profits, social ventures, and other mission-driven organizations avoid getting slizzered on social media.

Speaking of social media, my twitter handle is @gordondym, and you can follow blog updates on our Facebook page. You are always welcome to leave follow up questions and comments below, and you can reach me privately via Linked In or private e-mail. (All contact information can be found via the About page). Thanks for reading, and remember – don’t get slizzered by social media.

Making At-Risk Motherhood Easier Via Mobile

leave a comment »

A colleague once asked me why I attended corporate networking events rather than just stick with networking in the non-profit/social good field. From my perspective, “social good” is an all-encompassing idea, and I believe that any opportunity to engage the larger community can result in learning about something wonderful.

I was fortunate enough to volunteer at last week’s MobiU2012 conference, which was organized by Heartland Mobile Council. One of the afternoon presentations I attended was by Corey Bieber of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, who spoke openly about a mobile application they created for expectant mothers.

Arising from the realization that taking a preventative approach for their members’ health can have a positive impact on their bottom line (and help build trust), Blue Cross/Blue Shield looked at a variety of information about who an app could help. Expectant, potential ask-risk mothers were chosen because they not only had a definite start and end point, but also had a finite period in which they were dealing with their health concerns. A smartphone app was developed in order to assist and connect mothers with specific information and guidance provided via Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

There were several insights presented, and the presentation will be posted at the Heartland Mobile site. What follows are a series of bullet points taken from the #MobiU2012 Twitter hashtag:

Now you’re probably wondering….how does this impact the social good? Simply put: although it’s easy to focus on non-profits and more community-based organizations as ideal audiences for promoting the social good, “community” includes everyone….and the private sector can provide some really good examples of how socially beneficial thinking can benefit both the greater community and the bottom line.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions down below – in addition, you’re more than welcome to connect with me via Linked In (just mention Chicago Now in your referral note), or drop me a line via my web site. As always, thanks for reading!