Growing a Movement, One Pair of Socks at a Time
A viral health care conference meme became an unexpected way to build community.
Halloween is right around the corner. Miniature superheroes, ghosts, and other assorted costumed kids on a quest for sugary handouts will be accosting neighborhood homeowners with the well-worn mantra "trick or treat". Adults may bravely face greedy hellions elbowing their way past their gentler peers for chocolate goodies, or attend ghoulishly-decorated get-togethers with friends, or find that, after taking a single day off, everyone else has already picked a character to dress up as for this year's theme office party, with only one remaining (i.e. least desirable) option: think "reluctant Chewbacca" staring darts at Han, Leia, Luke, Lando, Darth, Obi-Wan, Dooku, Rey, and Kylo Ren.
The great thing about wearing pink socks with little black mustaches is that they're not hot, heavy, or hairy. They won't cramp your workstyle. They're fun, gender-blended, and a conversation starter, as well as small, portable, and as discrete as you want. Bold extroverts can pair them with a kilt, like Nick Adkins, public speaker, health care disruptor, and the Über-positive man behind the #pinksocks movement. More low-key folks may prefer them under tailored pants with only a hint of pink peeking out when alone (think Canadian Prime Minister/sock fashionista Justin Trudeau), but might dare to flaunt more sock among a group of like-attired health care professionals, like these #ACR2017 conferees:
Health care conferences of all kinds, including radiology conferences, are where you'll find people sporting pink socks. What exactly do pink socks have to do with health care? Zero. Zippo. Zilch. In fact, the socks had no special meaning at first. But when the simple no-strings-attached gesture of giving socks happened at a conference, with a tweeted picture that captured the moment, a movement of giving and sharing grew spontaneously and organically.
This grassroots movement isn't actually about the socks, it's about #pinksocks. #Pinksocks is not a fashion statement but a state of mind. #Pinksocks is a willingness to step outside our collective comfort zone and disrupt health care together by learning from and supporting each other. #Pinksocks is a celebration of our achievements so far and the future accomplishments we commit to work hard to achieve. The socks are a tangible symbol of what brings us together year after year, conference after conference, as well as a reminder of why we are there and the human connections we've forged long after we've gone back to our home institutions.
Next time you attend a health care conference, challenge a colleague to see who can spot the most pink socks. Get 100 bonus points for catching sight of Nick Adkins and 500 bonus points for witnessing him handing out pink socks. If he (or another #pinksock-er) hands YOU a pair of socks, game over! You automatically win because you are now a member of the #pinksocks tribe. Whether a tribe member gifts you socks or you order yourself a pair because you must-have-those-awesome-pink-socks-now, you'll always wear them at health care conferences with pride and delight.
Can you imagine the power of #pinksocks harnessed for a professional society and its journal? Join the one-and-only Nick Adkins (@nickisnpdx), this month's JACR tweetchat moderator, on Thursday, October 26, 2017, at noon EDT, as he and the JACR tweetchat (@JACRjournal) team discuss community-building with a special focus on JACR.
Discussion questions for this month's tweetchat are:
T1: What are some of your favorite Twitter communities?
T2: Why is it important for communities to be diverse and inclusive?
T3: Do communities have to have leaders to be effective?
T4: What sustains a community's growth and makes it attractive to join?
T5: What is one thing #JACR could do today to grow its community?
Don't forget to use #JACR in your tweets to follow and participate in the tweetchat. Add #pinksocks to your tweets liberally. And, of course, if you've got pink socks, wear 'em and tweet 'em!