Each issue of STAND features profiles of #MENMAD. That is, men who are making a difference.
Today we introduce:
40 years old
Los Angeles, CA
As the editor of BuzzFeed Parents, I make content that promotes a positive image of fatherhood and addresses important issues in the parenting community. I’m also co-president of Friends of Maddie, a charitable organization that supports parents who are suffering financial distress due to the loss of a child.
What inspired you to do what you do?
Once I became a father — and especially after I spent a stint as a stay-at-home dad — it became clear to me that fatherhood wasn’t always as championed as it should be. Dads in film and television were often depicted as buffoons, and the internet was full of memes playing up the idea that dads don’t know what they’re doing. Not only that, but involved dads who changed diapers or put their family ahead of their career were often judged for doing so. Fathers play such a crucial role in helping children grow up to be functioning members of society, but we don’t do enough to inspire young men to want to go “all in” as fathers. We need to change that.
One of the terrific things about working at BuzzFeed is having a large platform, and while much of the content we do is fun and meant to entertain, we make it a priority to use that platform to bring important content to a large audience. We’ve done our part to change the perception of fatherhood, shone a light on postpartum depression, given a voice to LGBT and special needs parents, spoke out against parent shaming, and helped people understand Tourette Syndrome — to name just a few of the things we’ve done.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face (or have faced) in doing it?
The hardest part of my job — whether you’re doing content that is fun or socially conscious — is consistently finding new ways to make content that will go viral or at least stand out among the sea of content online. To do this you must always be creative and original, and look forward, not back.
Are there any men (past or present) you particularly admire or who have influenced you?
I’ve been very lucky to have a wonderful father who has always been there for me. He’s set a great example for me of what a father should be, not just when your kids are small, but when they’re adults too.
What advice would you give to other men interested in doing what you do, or otherwise making a difference in their community?
If there is an issue or message you want to bring to the world via the Internet, you should do it! With that said, it’s important to think about how you can best bring exposure to that issue or message. Think creatively — the ice bucket challenge, for example, went viral because it was fun and unique and not just another 1,000+ word blog post. Ask yourself, “How will your content stand out?” At BuzzFeed we find that even fun content can have trouble finding an audience if it’s not done in a fresh enough way. This is doubly true for socially conscious content, so think outside the box.
If you have children, are you hoping that they carry on the work you are doing?
I’m less concerned with whether my kids carry on the work I’m doing as I am with raising kids who care about their fellow humans and the world. If I can do that, they will find their own way to make the world a better place.
How can others learn about you, get in touch, or support your work?
You can follow me on Twitter @newbornidentity, follow BuzzFeed Parents on Facebook and atBuzzFeed.com/parents, or visit my family site, www.thespohrsaremultiplyng.com. More information about Friends of Maddie is available at www.friendsofmaddie.org.
Photo credit: Getty Images