For most people, the idea of kids and technology conjures up images of sexting and cyber bullying. I started @westhighbros to end cyber bullying at my school and to make it a better place to be in general. Let’s face it, school is for learning but socialization happens more often that studying. Our Twitter account is here to prove to every single doubter of the goodness of people, but especially teens, that people my age can do great things with technology. We’re here to show the world the power of technology and the power of positive word.
Let me back up a bit. I started @westhighbros in late October of 2011. I ran the account by myself for three months then asked one of my friends to join me – throughout the year we added more “bros” as contributors are called and we built up a decent following. We have everyone from the local newspaper to the local US Congressman follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook. Despite these high profile follows, our greatest joy is when parents of our classmates follow us on Twitter or friend us on Facebook. It gives us the parent stamp of approval. Right now we stand at about 850 followers on Twitter and 1,500 friends on Facebook, and yes we know every single one of them. Well there you have it, the story of @westhighbros, the world’s first compliment account. Now let’s talk about what we actually do.
Simply put @westhighbros and (the Facebook version of @westhighbros) writes compliments (we call them comps). We write comps mainly to our classmates at Iowa City West High but we’ve been known to write to the principal of our cross town rival, the President, and to celebrities. Most of the time people respond with a thank you and a follow. This is our method of eliminating bullying.
The USA started a war on bullying with a massive campaign on how to stand up to bullies. Newsflash, it isn’t working. Bullying is still a problem. And, even more frightening, we regularly hear news reports about bullying being a factor in teen suicide. While it may be impossible to eliminate bullying completely; my goal is just to impact one person. Even if it’s just a small change in their life, the second I know I have done something for someone, I know my goal is accomplished. You might be thinking this idea is dumb but ever since we started our Twitter and Facebook pages, bullying has decreased by over 60% at our school. By no means is my way the only way, but for my school it worked. I encourage anyone reading this blog post to think just for five minutes of ways they can help spread their own comps. Just a simple five minutes can change your whole community, it certainly changed mine.