twitter blamed for flash mobs and everything else

March 23, 2010

in social media

my saturday night ended with my husband and me running away from a flash mob headed directly toward us, themselves spooked by gunshots. we stumbled upon this mob of young kids, brought together by text and twitter, on our way home from a silent auction to raise funds for our eldest’s school. the auction let us behind the 10-feet walls of girard college, a k-12 boarding school and 43 acre oasis in one of philly’s more uneven neighborhoods.

the flash mob we ran into isn’t the first philly’s experienced. after the last one, two councilmen blamed twitter for these events and sought to sue them. the officials were roundly criticized for blaming the tools, not the behavior.

sound similar? it reminds me of companies denying employees access to social media tools, fearing employees will destroy the company’s reputation and productivity.

that’s what made our being at girard college a fitting bookend to this other terrifying experience.

stephen girard opened his college in the 1800s, leaving it with an endowment that keeps its doors open to this day. initially the college was open to “such a number of poor male white orphans, as can be trained in one institution, a better education, as well as a more comfortable maintenance, than they usually receive from the application of public funds.” since then, the college’s admission evolution has mirrored that of the rest of our country, expanding to include all men and women. but there’s one thing that has remained unchanged, and that is its express purpose of providing a free scholarship to those whose academic and financial abilities are mismatched.

stephen girard had the answer two centuries ago: give people an opportunity to do right. have faith in their capabilities and educate them. then see what happens.


note: i’ve lived in philadelphia for years (more than 15 in total) and have had little exposure to stephen girard’s legacy. this experience caused me to dig up some info about the man. the reading of his will was the most enlightening, and inspiring. he left nearly his entire estate to various charitable causes, in addition to girard college. take a peek.

Leave a Comment

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

autom March 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

those who don’t get (or subconsciously refuse to?) and consequently fear monger the power of social media should be flashed and then mobbed.

humour aside, must say that is quite the poignant and inspiring tale of stephen girard. he leaves a rich and exhaustive legacy of philanthropic work truly worthy of respect, honour and remembrance.

nice stopping by and catching your beat – cheers a


fran March 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

it’s really amazing that he’s not better known among our city’s notable people. from what i’ve read so far, it seems the school’s lurching progress to include all men and women has lots to do with it. but the school’s current president, autumn adkins, is seeking to change that. great interview with her here:

always good to hear from you autom!



D.B. August 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm

It is just Stephen Girard’s revenge for violating his will and last wishes = Philly has turned into a cesspool.


fran August 3, 2011 at 6:26 am

we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

thanks for reading,


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