Person of interest: Alex Simmons

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Alex Simmons is known as @AverageBlackMan on Twitter, where he has amassed more than 75,000 followers.

He spends around three to four hours a day there. He usually tweets or re-tweets more than 50 times a day -- often positive, inspirational messages designed to help others deal with what life throws at them.

"Social media is the quickest way to get a message out," Mr. Simmons said. "I use it to motivate people."

Sample tweets: "If it's stressing you, it's not blessing you."

"Dear Lord today delete negative input, clean out viruses, block all hackers, give me a better memory & open a new file!"

"I don't write tweets ... I write life."

How did AverageBlackMan gain such an enviable following? "It basically happened overnight. The right people were reading my tweets and retweeting them." Some were celebrities and athletes with large followings of their own that helped get his Twitter page rolling.

" I have followers from all over the world and this is made possible by the connectivity of the Internet and Twitter. Otherwise I would have never been able to spread my message to touch as many people. That inspires me to keep tweeting every day. I get a lot of positive feedback -- something I said helped them through a situation."

Mr. Simmons, 26, grew up in Richland, where he still lives. He works at BNZ Materials. He's also working on a website and book.

How did you build such a large Twitter following?

I tweet about subjects that every person can relate to, no matter what age. I also tweet a positive message because there is no point to give attention to the negative things in life. It's more important to focus on the positive, because a positive attitude attracts positive people into my life.

How did you choose the name Average Black Man?

What does that mean to you? I am trying to redefine how people perceive an "average" black man in America and create a positive image for young men.

What's your goal with using social media this way?

My goal is to inspire as many people as I can. I want to help people through their day-to-day lives or to help them through tough situations and to let them know that life isn't as bad as we make it; that having a positive attitude makes every situation in life manageable. Social media is the fastest way to reach people all across the world and spread my message.

Mac or PC?


Your favorite spot in the 'Burgh ... I don't really have any particular spot that I frequent, but I enjoy low-key places like Local Bar + Kitchen on the South Side.

Best piece of advice you've ever received ...

My high school basketball coach [at Pine-Richland High School], Coach D, always inspired me when he would say, "You're not here for a long time, you're here for a good time." I try to live my life by these words, not spending my time stressing about small things that I can't control, but instead enjoying all the wonderful blessings in my life.

Can't live without ... my iPhone.

Who has inspired you the most in your life?

My family because they have instilled me with the right morals and raised me to be the person I am today.

Best book ever ... "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. It's a very inspirational book that helped me to realize that everything in life, although not in your control, has a purpose and that you can make the best of it.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a very easygoing person who would much rather spend my time relaxing and staying low-key than being in the spotlight.



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