5/6/14

In search of the Viral Gentleman.



Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

Muhammad Ali

Most people get into the social media with Viral Dreams, hoping they post that one video or one picture that will make them into an overnight sensation. Every time they upload, they pray that upload turns into an invitation to Ellen or a spot in Good Morning America. Me, I had simpler aspirations, to pay it back.


Most of us searching to become Better Men have been down at one time or another. I can bet most have felt like they hit bottom, and it’s during that process of building themselves up when they realize they can build themselves into something better. Yet during this time, our greatest need is simply for hope and guidance. As foolishly as it might sound, I found that guidance in those simple quotes and motivationals online. 


A quote doesn’t tell you anything by itself. It’s just a simple short phrase. But what it does is make you think. You need to interpret it, analyze it, and see how it applies to your own life. A quote doesn’t tell you what to think, it simply points you in the right direction. You learn the lesson on your own. For those reinventing themselves, it gives you enough of a foothold so you don’t slip into old ways, it gives you enough insight into the man you can become to give you hope. So in most of my write-ups, I will include an opening quote that relates to the article, just to set up the tone.


A few months ago, while preparing an article, I found an image that caught my attention. It said “NoMore: Boys will be Boys.” I understood the message. We have too many people excusing inexcusable behavior from men with the phrase “Boys will be Boys”. We have too many men unwilling to grow up into Better men. But something in the back of my mind wouldn’t let go of it. 


That something is my own son. I want him to be a Boy, to enjoy his childhood. Too many of us had to grow up too soon, others never had anyone willing to teach them how to grow up, and so they stumbled. I kept thinking about it. “Let my boy be a boy, but let me teach him how to be a man.”


So I headed out to the un-fringed interweb to find an appropriate image. I knew what I wanted, an image of a Father helping his Boy become a Man; by guidance, by action and by example. And among pictures of kids propped up like manequines next to men with whom they had little in common, beautiful pictures of true gentlemen holding up their baby sons too young to convey the message, and dad/sport coaches; I found it. This inspiring image of a man helping his son put on a tie.

It was perfect for the message. His protective position over his son, as if letting us know how he is willing to shield the boy from the world while showing him how to shape up into a man, his son, beaming with pride as he gets a glimpse of what being a Man is. 


I looked online to find the original poster, hoping and praying it was not some kind of advertising commercial for kids clothing and it was all fake. The image was all over, thanks to Pinterest, and in several Fatherhood blogs, but search as much as I could, I just couldn’t find the Man in the Picture. Seeing how widely used it was, I set off to make my version. The quote worked itself out nicely. 

“Boys will be boys, till someone teaches them to be more.”

So I posted it on my Facebook Page, Twitter, and Pinterest. That was 2 weeks ago, and I had basically forgotten about it. Then it happened. I received a message from the National Council forMen and Boys. They loved the image. 
“Thanking @BeingCaballero for capturing our mission.”

I thought they had found it thanks to my Tweeter. One thing led to another, and I was asked if I was interested in helping out. I was ecstatic. And then the question popped up, could they use the image?  
As much as I wanted to say yes, I told them without the man’s authorization, I just couldn’t agree.


So I headed out in a desperate search for the mystery father, with little hopes of finding him. And again I started hitting dead ends, just like last time. Till later on that night I get an update from another page. THEY POSTED THE IMAGE. It wasn’t a share from my page, but a copy and re-post. Fortunately they didn’t remove the Being Caballero. And it had 17,000 likes and over 3,000 shares!!! And more importantly it had one very important comment.

“I am seeing this picture of my husband and stepson everywhere. Corey Soloman, Look you are posted on the (*page that re-posted image without share).”

FINALLY, a lead! When I looked at the man’s profile, I saw just how popular the image had become. In total, the picture has gotten over 135,500 Likes and 60,000 Shares. And that is just from the more popular sites on Facebook. His reaction and comments where those of a true gentleman.

“But hey, at least Mini Me is getting some shine, lol.

What was truly amazing was the reaction of people to the image and the message.
“Powerful and very true 
“Kids turn their dads into men”
“that's what real men do teach boy's to be men
nothing like having a Real man teach a Young man how to be a Responsible and Respectful Man. 
“I have always said that children should be the "upgraded" version of their parents. When my son left home on his wedding day, the last thing I said to him is, "You were a better student in school than I was and you have turned out to be a better man. The only thing left for me to say is to be a better husband.”



That’s when it hit me. I did what I set myself out to do. Create the conversation, make people think, have them look at themselves and shine for others to see. And with a name and a profile, I headed out to contact the Viral Gentleman. I explained everything to him. His reaction?
“Thank you for contacting me back. I had posted a comment under the pic on the (site that reposted*) Page, but no one ever replied to me. No I do not mind at all with my picture being used. It is truly an honor and a humbling feeling to see this pic spread virally and touch so many people.”
"I do want to go on record by saying although our photographer staged this pic of my son and I at my wedding , I do everything in my power to raise him to be a positive, respectful and productive male in today's society. I truly appreciate all the positive feedback from everyone. It's humbling and is confirmation that I'm doing my job as a dad and a father."
If I had created a story in my mind for the man behind the picture, the man that stepped up was just as impressive. And for that I truly thank you.

(PS. I would like to give also a shout out to the artist behind the camera, Anyabwile Love. Without his talent and his eye for composition, this picture would never have been achieved.)