As the continent of Facebook gets more crowded with bustling inhabitants and Twitter’s constant hum of blasts grow deafeningly loud, breaking through as an individual is tough. That is, unless you’re James Tate and you want to go to prom.

My father, a non-member of Tate’s 200,000 Facebook fans, is an on-the-cusp Baby Boomer from NY who works 60+ hours a week as a lawyer. He wanted to break through recently. He had a reason to. A local NY gas station charged him $4.25 per gallon when the sign clearly said $4.19. When he approached the manager, he got nowhere. The manager said the signs were in the process of changing to $4.25. This was irrelevant – when my father started pumping gas, the sign read $4.19. The manager did not budge. Big mistake. A Jewish lawyer from New York is not going to swallow that sour taste. He’s going to talk about it.

The most interesting part of this story (to me, anyway) is what happened next. In the minds of 600+ million Facebook users, the consideration of ranting on Facebook is quite probable. Twitter is another quick-decision outlet, if you can sum up your story in 140 characters or less. Then of course, you can blog about it, text about it, email about it…and on and on.

In this multiple choice arena, my father chose “none of the above.”

He called the local paper.

As a committee member of a non-profit, I clearly remember the days of contacting the papers with my press releases. I would want volunteers or attendees to my events or donations. With over 200 members of my non-profit’s Facebook group, I don’t even recall the papers’ contact information. In fact, I think their reporters may be fans of our Facebook page. I solely use that outlet and it works.

So why did he call the paper?

Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t use social media. He recently graduated texting 101 and as of 2009, his emails are incorporating full sentences. He recognizes his discomfort with the digital space and tends to lean where he’s comfortable. Or perhaps he’s smart. He knew where he has to go make a change and he reached his target directly to initiate more than just reaction.

From my perspective, his rationale is irrelevant because it all boils down to one thing – breaking through.

The local paper sent reporters to the gas station and questioned the manager. My father was interviewed. A complaint was filed with the local department of consumer protection. Action was taken. Real action.

While social media is a great communication tool, it is not the only outlet. Hone in on your situation and find the best medium to adequately reach your audience and your goal.

My Dad’s goal? Reduce fraudulent activity one gallon of gas at a time.


One thought on “Breaking Through in Traditional Form

  1. Since this post, Westchester County Consumer Protection investigated the situation.

    Inspectors gave the station a formal warning about failure to utilize the proper price-change procedures. Additionally, the station operator is sending my father a refund of the overcharge, and may consider giving an additional gift card.

    In this instance, justice = served. But in the big scheme of fraudulent activity, this is just one nip in the ginormous bud. Until then, keep speaking up, all.

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