Sackville NB, home of @MountAllison University — on the last day of 2012. (@Cmdr_Hadfield via Twitter, Dec.31, 2012) by Aloma Jardine I t was Canada’s social media campaign of the year — astronaut Chris Hadfield, floating high above the Earth in the International Space Station, giving those of us who will never leave the planet a glimpse of life in zero gravity. By the time Hadfield returned, he had more than a million followers from around the globe on Twitter, hanging onto his every word and out-of-this-world photographs. But those inspiring tweets may never have made it into our atmosphere if it weren’t for three Mount Allison graduates — Evan Hadfield (’09), who is Chris Hadfield’s son, Justin Lavigne (’08), and Aaron Murphy (’07). The trio were the guest speakers at this year’s Global Brigades Gala, held in Saint John in January. Hadfield says the original intent in using Twitter was to do something “interesting” for his father’s last flight. “It would be the first time a Canadian was a commander and it was a big deal to us, but we didn’t know if it would be a big deal to anyone else,” he says. It was. Hadfield says people are fascinated by space, but don’t often get to see what ordinary life is like on the space station. The elder Hadfield had a knack for capturing the wonder of space flight — showing people how to play Scrabble on the ceiling, what crying is like in space, what astronauts eat, and how to wash your hands with weightless water. “There is no human that has an interest that 100,000 other people don’t share,” Hadfield says. “If you share honestly, it is inevitable that other people will follow it as well.” Despite orchestrating one of the most successful social media campaigns in recent history, Hadfield says all he did was take full advantage of an opportunity most of his contemporaries don’t get. “It is wonderful to work with someone who trusts you in your 20s to do something that other companies wouldn’t,” he says. “I think I didn’t do anything special. The difference is almost no one in our society is giving autonomy and authority to people in their 20s.” Hadfield is still working for his father, who he says is busier than ever. “He is a symbol now, a symbol for space flight,” he says. “Now every child in this country thinks they can become a space commander.” He and Murphy have also set up a digital media consulting company. He says most companies aren’t getting social media right. “Dad describes social media as sitting at a kitchen table, but most people are sitting at the kitchen table with a megaphone. Nobody is going to pay attention to that guy and they are not going to tell the guy next to them, ‘Listen to the guy with the megaphone,’” he says. “I would argue I am bad at social media. What I’m really good at is humans. I have a real breadth of understanding of what humans like everywhere and it turns out it is all the same — the only difference is the culture through which those things are expressed. Humans… all have the same desires, interests, and hopes, and you have to figure out how to share the best with them.” / 25