Social Media = Socially Immune
Friday, August 02, 2013
I would consider myself an internet junkie. I didn't own my first computer until I was a Sophomore in college, some 14 years ago. At that point in time, computers were outrageously expensive and I had access to computers in High School and college, so there was no need for me or my family to spend thousands of dollars on a personal computer. Eventually, my mother broke down and bought me one for my sophomore year of college because it was becoming more and more evident that I would need one. What I discovered after getting my computer was the land of internet, which equated to countless hours wasted surfing the web, chatting with friends, chatting with strangers and forgetting about my studies.
It's hard for me to imagine my life without a computer and internet access, especially now, living so far away from family and friends in a foreign country. Particularly now, because I have to email my husband in Afghanistan in order to communicate with him because phone communication is difficult. I use different tools to communicate each day with friends and family. One of these tools is Facebook.
I was introduced to Facebook in 2008 by a friend who told me it's how she remained in contact with her old high school classmates, college classmates, friends and family. I was intrigued by it because it's difficult for me to remain in contact with all the people I want to, given that we move every 3 years or less. I signed up for it and was amazed at how many people I was reconnecting with. I spent countless hours roaming Facebook, trying to locate people from my past. Reconnecting with old friends, staying in touch with family and keeping up with different organizations that I belong or belonged to at one time.
In many ways, Facebook has been a blessing to me, since I am able to see photos of my family members, especially my nieces and nephews as they grow up before my eyes. In other ways, Facebook is a curse. I cannot even begin to count the numerous times I have witnessed friends and family post things that have absolutely no business being posted in the first place. No one needs to know about your sex life, your divorce battles, your hatred for certain political matters, your religious rants about the apocalypse, your bowel issues, your children's bowel movements or flatulence problems, your hatred of family members or friends or how much you hate your ex spouse. Do you know what this shows? A total lack of respect for yourself and others. If you want to come off as a freak show, then post it on Facebook. People love a good train wreck and that's exactly why many people flock to different tools of social media.
We've become a society of instant gratification. We want things now, not a week ago, not yesterday, not even two seconds ago. NOW! We want people to know the good and bad that happen in our lives. We don't want to tell them about it next year, we want them to know about it NOW. We live and thrive off of information, regardless of good or bad. This brings me to the whole reason for my blog today.
This morning, I logged on to Facebook, surfing through postings of family and friends and I run across a posting from my sister-in-law (husband's sister) that states that my husband's beloved grandmother is in the hospital and dying. The posting goes on to state that the family is asking for prayers and support during this difficult time. I was stunned to read this posting. Not just a little stunned, but I had to pick my jaw up off the floor before I tripped over it. Not only was I not fully aware of the situation, I was appalled that this was posted on Facebook for all the world to see, yet my husband and I had never been contacted. On top of that, my husband is the executor of his grandmother's estate and anything serious like this we should always be made aware of. The family has been told on numerous occasions if something is serious and needs urgent notification to please contact the American Red Cross and they will notify us immediately. Or better yet, why not pick up the phone and call, shoot me an email or send me a private message on Facebook?
Finding out something like this through a Facebook posting made me so angry this morning. It made me realize just how "socially immune" we've become to other peoples' thoughts and feelings. I wondered how my sister-in-law would like it if the role was reversed. That feeling of being left out of the "loop" of things reminds me once again the "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy of life that so many people live by. The consequences of these actions now mean that my husband, who is extremely close to his grandmother, is going to have to be called home from deployment early to, more than likely, bury her.
Her diagnosis of terminal cancer has hit my husband like a ton of bricks. Her elderly, fragile body has taken a beating over the years with repeated diagnosis of cancer, but she has been able to pull through each time. However, this time, the cancer has spread to her liver, pancreas and kidneys. We know the inevitable is likely, but still hard to grasp. I have only been a part of the family for six years and in that time, I've only had the opportunity to met Ms. Thelma about a handful of times. Each of these times, we were able to spend several days with her. She is truly the matriarch of the family and is credited with holding the family together over the years. She represents stability for my husband because his mother and father were a very dysfunctional couple, moving often and never settling in one spot long. Thelma has lived in the same house for 34 years. When her husband passed away in 1990, my husband went to live with her so he could "take care of her," as she had taken care of him as a baby.
She's a feisty woman, who grew up on a cotton farm, picking cotton with her family. The years of sun exposure left her vulnerable to skin cancer, which has ravaged her body over the years. She's 92 years old and will turn 93 in September, if she makes it that long. At 92, she's sharp as a tack and remains active at the Senior Center where she runs the Tuesday bingo game, which they honorably named "Thelma's Tuesday Bingo." She writes me letters often, and even though her handwriting has markedly worsened over the past year, I still love deciphering her handwriting. I'm going to miss getting those letters.
Communication is an essential part of the human experience. Some people are great communicators while others are not, but communication is the key to any relationship, whether it be family, friends, or work related. But I think in today's society, we fail to see just how communication is turning our world into it's own "reality show." Too many people disregard the way they communicate with others and don't think twice about what they post on social medial sites. So, folks before you think about posting something on Facebook regarding a pertinent matter, make sure everyone is familiar with the situation. Otherwise, what happens is a domino effect of consequences and emotions that leads to misunderstandings.