“This group has taught me so much in the last few months! It’s reminded me how good it feels to lend a hand just because everybody needs help sometimes! But more importantly, it’s reminded me how to ask for help and not feel like less of a man for admitting that I need help.” -Pat Shearer, Post Falls, ID
Roughly 15 months ago, Spokane resident Chris Morse got tired of wasting time on what he felt was a volatile environment of negativity and dissension. He said that enough was enough and it was time for a shift. What he decided to do next was the foundation of what is currently an explosively popular men’s Facebook group called Man the Family Up (MTFU).
Morse’s choice to stay involved with social media was a strained one. He grappled with how he could continue to give so much of his time to something he didn’t see serving anyone.
When asked why it even mattered so much to him – why not call it quits and move on – he was quick to share that he felt his idea was to create something different. Morse never anticipated the quick growth, the massive outpouring of support and even the national and international connections that would come.
Currently, Morse has had several local and national marketing agencies contact him regarding the growth of MTFU. The growth metrics and algorithms of even the most productive and profitable Facebook groups are dwarfed in comparison to what Morse and his group have accomplished in less than a year and a half.
Chris Morse says marketing agencies don’t understand the part that is missing from most social media. The part they aren’t accounting for and can not be replicated in a vacuum is the actual, real-time person-to-person connection.
Rather than offering human connection through social media post ‘likes’ and half-hearted comments and emojis, Morse started the MTFU group as a work/buy/sell/trade group. His thought was that if people were getting out and into the community – even connecting over simple things – maybe that would remedy some of the discontent and social disconnection he was experiencing.
The group grew so quickly, soon many hours were spent managing the content posted by members. Monitoring new member’s divisive postings began to remind Morse of the very thing he was trying to avoid. Surprisingly, the group morphed into more of an acts of service and meet-up group.
The pivotal point in the group’s transformation came when MTFU member, Rick Clark, came to Morse with the idea of joining forces to assemble and distribute backpacks for the Spokane area homeless.
In the planning and implementation of the backpack project, Clark shared that he didn’t really feel he fit the ‘manly man’ idea that he had seen portrayed in society and in the MTFU Facebook group. Clark had felt he may not have enough ‘manliness’ to contribute to the overtly male Facebook group.
Morse took Clark’s thoughts in and mulled them over. He says it was one more thing that pushed him to continue to give his time to the group. If Clark, wanting to contribute to his community and fellow man, felt that he wasn’t sure he had anything to offer, how many other men held back? Who else wasn’t stepping up to the challenge of what it means to be a man of contribution? How could MTFU help men grow past the stigma and supposed social expectations of what being a ‘manly’ man means?
The backpack distribution project was wildly successful. The MTFU men participated with their sons, neighbors, and brothers. The group was galvanized by this early project because they worked together to produce something real and tangible that made a difference.
The physical meet-up of over 200 members passing out backpacks created a bond that spread to friendships and businesses and further bolstered the community support agenda of MTFU.
“When I first joined the group I thought to myself ‘Great another one of these pages.’ I stuck it out and it didn’t take me long to see that this wasn’t the average Facebook Group. I am proud to say the Good Men of the group have moved mountains in regards to changing the way we network and work in our community.” #TheGoodMen -Derek Cartwright Sr., Spokane, WA
Since then the group has created its own inner structure of support for its members and their families. MTFU has a professionally trained Suicide Prevention Team. Since it’s beginning, the team has honed their system so well that several men’s lives have been saved.
MTFU members have worked together to provide reliable transportation for families in need. The group has single-handedly shown up to support entire business districts, as well as performing a search and rescue for a member’s daughter.
Morse never anticipated where MTFU would be today. Chris continues his commitment to creating long-lasting social change through bringing men together. He believes in shining a light on the special things that happen when men do work together for a common purpose.
Morse thinks of the time he now spends on social media and says that he keeps giving of his time because he has seen what it can do when one man does something good in his community. He says also he has seen what a hand-up can do for a man’s sense of self and service to his family and community.
Morse goes on to say, “We’re a product of the time we spend and what we spend it on. How much of what we are is simply scrolling?”
MTFU is currently at over 50,000 members and growing. There are members all over the US and membership has jumped the continent and is spreading worldwide.
The impact of men being willing to support one another in their communities is creating cultural change. As Morse states, “If we’re gonna heal, we have to listen, share, and be open.”
Amber Jensen is an author, journalist and freelance copywriter specializing in pieces that highlight the human condition as connection and contribution. She hails from small-town Idaho and makes her chaotic home on a piece of dirt in Eastern Washington, with her adventure-seeking husband and four wild children. Learn more about Amber by visiting www.amberjjensen.com