The History of My Life According to Social Media

This might be an unusual post for, but I want to write it . Mainly, the point of posting it here as opposed to a personal site is really to demonstrate the power of social media in bridging real life connections with real life people. There’s still, believe it or not, a stigma about the web – that it’s still some sort Photo by Jared Goralnickof awkward, weird place filled with creepy people. No one who reads this blog feels that way, but some people still do. :-)

My life has been a very diverse life. From my Christian upbringing in the home of a pastor, to my far-flung career of travel, social media and web technology. It’s filled with details that largely escape people who are not, well, me.

The Early Years

I was born on September 6, 1976 to Tom Brazell and Judy Brazell. I am the oldest of three kids. My sister, Corrine and brother, Tim.

My dad was a pastor from a pentecostal background and at the ripe old age of eight, I found myself in Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) where I spent 4 years growing up with guys like James Dodzweit and Jamie Butler.

High School

I was somewhat of a social outcast in my high school years and most of the people that remember me from high school, in Annapolis, MD, don’t necessarily remember me positively. That said, Facebook has done a tremendous job of reconnecting me with some of that past and positive relationships are being built after 15 years.

Guys like Eric Funderburk I remember fondly. Eric wrote in my senior yearbook, “Time is our friend, just like fire”. I don’t know if he knew the wisdom of that statement at the time, but I’d venture he realizes that truth today.

Mrs. Wolfe was my English teacher, and would probably be proud of my work here if she knew it existed. :)

I had a crush on several girls in high school, as well. Girls like Heather, Stephanie, and even Rachel (who was always more of a sister anyway) were in this mix, as those high school things go. Only one of them, Stephanie, I am really keeping in contact with in a so non-crushy way (she’s married and I’m recovering).


Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I didn’t go to college. I actually did go to a year of community college right out of high school and got bored. Years later, I’d return to get some credit but got bored because I could teach every one of the classes I was taking. However, I also did go to Elim Bible Institute with the intention of following in my dad’s footprints and becoming a minister. Didn’t happen and I don’t regret that.

While I was at Elim, I made a number of other friends and emerged from my socially awkward state that I lived in in high school. Among the friends, was my very close friend who I’d really love to be in contact with more, Fred Englehardt. Today, Fred works in the Albany City Schools. Eric Mellert is too conservative for my liking (we sparred a few times about Barack Obama on Facebook), is a super good guy and is living in Florida with his beautiful wife Shannon. Jennifer is apparently my neighbor in Alexandria, and we have yet to reconnect.

New York City

After a year at Elim, I headed to the Big Apple and worked with a non-profit dealing with the homeless in New York City. Among the relationships I built there was with my dear friend Dave Rowe (Papi!) who is now living in Hartford, CT and we still keep in touch occasionally. I’ll probably get an email from him after this post goes up because he lurks. :)

Modern Life

After NYC, I moved back to Maryland where, in time, I met Nicole who I would eventually marry. That would last eight years. During this time, I entered the web space while working at Northrop Grumman with guys like Zak, Sean and Anthony. I’d then move on to b5media and reunite with long time friend and web-head Jeremy Wright. Along the way, I’d make other friends like Christina Jones, Chad Randall.

In a parallel universe, I worked in the WordPress world where I met guys like Chris Pearson, Jeffro, and Matt Mullenweg. Some crossover existed between WordPress and b5media. For instance, I worked directly with Brian Layman and Mark Jaquith and maintain solid relationships with each of them to date.

Eventually, I would leave b5media and become an independent. I work closely with Micah and the entire Lijit team as my primary, full time client.

I can’t even begin to mention all the people I’ve met along the way. Likewise, I can’t mention every relationship that has started in real life and somehow made it into online life.

What I will say is this stuff is a game changer. It bridges the gap between those in real life, and those online and having that benefit changes the way everything is done. Now, more than ever before, it’s possible to do business, find business partners, find love, rebuild old relationships and extend personal brand. Now, more than ever before, everything is possible.

* Photo by Jared Goralnick

14 Replies to “The History of My Life According to Social Media”

  1. Each persons story is different. And sometimes there are similarities. I was thinking of a post like this yesterday as I was going through the Wayback archive and looking at old websites of mine.

    Each thing that happened molded you. And didn’t do half bad.

  2. Enjoyed reading your story, Aaron. When I was a journalist, one of my first reporter buddies had grown up in Argentina, the son of US missionaries. He’s an interesting guy who works at IADB now. Did you pick up any soccer skills during your four years in Zaire?

    I was also raised in a religious background and was ever ah so close to entering the seminary to study for the priesthood with the Dominicans..was accepted by elected not to enter because I didn’t feel ready.

    That’s great that you’ve been able to make such good use of social media and reacquaint yourself with folks from your past.

  3. Good post Aaron. Your french is still there huh? Mine has experienced some grammatical atrophy from years of neglect.

    We’re still prayin for you to make into the ministry . . . just kidding.

    You have found your niche, and you are kicking A$$. Way to go.


  4. Hey man, I’ll never forget that evening in Dallas when we all had dinner at Bennigans. That was an awesome conversation we all had regarding the things that were taking place within WordPress and 2.5 and what have you. Because of that trip, I’ve been going to my local Bennigans here, they have pretty good food. At any rate, it was a pleasure meeting you and I still have your number on my cell phone. Perhaps I should give you a ring every now and then.

  5. Interesting and well thought out. Its nice to know where your friends have come from ad why they are as awesome as they are. Even, if they just are bitter that my blog gets more traffic and comments than theirs. :)

  6. I think a lot of people initially realize how cool the connection-factor is of social networking. But what I think a lot of people overlook is how long lasting and continuous the relationships you find will be. I’m “closer” to some friends now than I was when I lived in the same neighborhood. Some people call this sad, I call it much better than not being in touch at all. Each day I’m reintroduced to someone from some past time, or meet new friends that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s such a cool revolution and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.

  7. Thanks for adding another dimension to the many-faceted Aaron Brazell. It’s powerful how easy it is to hold onto different parts of, and retell, our past through online presence.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Hey, nice job… And even though “we sparred a few times about Barack Obama on Facebook”, I still consider you a good friend. And, believe it or not, I like to include in my social network, a variety of friends who don’t see things the way I do. It keeps me always checking my own priorities and challenges me to think outside the norm. As a matter of fact, a good friend and neighbor of mine is very contrary to my thought process and we often get into conversations on government, God and whatnot. Anyways, good write up and here’s to a future of friendship and mutual thirst for knowledge.

  9. Hey Eric-

    Likewise, I keep close friends across the political, religious and social spectrums as well. It’s always good to have a challenger. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Great post Aaron! Thanks for sharing with us. I didn’t realize we had the “son of a preacher man” in common. I too parted with the lineage of pastors in the family and left that up to my two older brothers. You’ve inspired me to write a similar post, although I believe even fewer of my friends from the pre-Internet days really “get it” still. Reconnecting with more and more of them though. Now, just need to wrap up the other 328 post ideas that were in line before this one.

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