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    MAGS650   12,823
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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.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HUNTETOWN 8/2/2013 5:45PM

    emoticon getting new like this via FB instead of a call or private email sucks. Truly hope that your husband gets to see her one more time before Thelma passes away. So sweet of her to write you, even if you are relatively new to the family and don't get to see her a lot.
I started deleting FB "friends" for the same matters that you write about, even family members don't get spared. If you don't care enough to send me private messages regards personal matters, why should I have to deal with your rants & such in public forums. Don't even get me started on children's bowel movements, throwing up and such, I'm a mother myself, but a line should be drawn way before that...Made my life better and I choose only to leave those people in my contacts that are more one my wavelength and don't pull me down with their constant negativity and hatred. Sounds selfish, but 5000 km away I can't do much about it anyway. And ever noticed that the same people never ask how you are doing?
Hugs,
Sue

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STINASTEW 8/2/2013 1:12PM

    Very sorry to hear this, esp with finding out through facebook! I, too, have found on things on facebook that I wish ppl would've told me (us) about. Prayers are being sent her & your way!

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DRPEPPIE121 8/2/2013 11:48AM

    OH my gosh! PERFECT POST AWARD!!! You said everything I've been thinking and saying to others for years!!! God bless you!!!

Sorry to hear about what you have to go through though. Not fun...and drama SUCKS. Which, of course, is so much more evident and worse because of social media and the internet.

But I'll just leave it at this...because you said it so well and it frustrates me so bad.

ANYWAYS, hope things get better!

emoticon

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NEVERORNOW 8/2/2013 9:23AM

    emoticon It must've been awful to find out the news in the way you did. I've been in similar situations with family members on Facebook and by email, and can relate to what you are saying. You and your DH will be in my prayers, as will Thelma. Your description of her made me smile - you are so blessed to have known her and to have such wonderful memories. She reminds me of my mom-in-law who passed on 3 years ago at the age of 96. There's not a day goes by that I don't miss her.

Facebook definitely is a mixture of blessing and a curse. I was on there a lot at one time but much prefer to spend my internet time here on SP, it's much less stressful for me. :)

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REMEMBER_THIS 8/2/2013 9:16AM

    Hi Rachel,
I am sorry on so many levels. People have seemed to have lost all empathy these days. We seem to be losing our compassion not only for one another but just as people in general. Perhaps there are too many of us, maybe it's the technology age, I don't know but it makes for a very sad world.
I am sorry about your husbands grandmother, her life has surely been full. I hoping you will be able to make it "home" soon to be with her and to do what you need to do.
I am also sorry that this will be a difficult venture for you both. Surely there is a reason you were not notified in person and he being the executor. This may get more difficult.
My thoughts and prayers are with you both and Thelma.
Beni

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LADYFROMTHEWOOD 8/2/2013 8:23AM

    I am so very sorry to hear about Thelma's prognosis. My prayers are with you and your hubby and the whole family.
I understand what you are feeling about the FB situation. I've been on both sides of that fence. It's way to easy to use social media as a tool to "get the news out and call for urgent prayer" before thinking that others may need the private notification to let the circumstance sink in before dealing with the barrage of emotions that come with it. Knowing that your neighbor's 2nd cousin found out about something like this hours before you had any clue is hurtful. I've seen a wife tell FB her cancer has come back before her on-the-road husband heard about it since she couldn't reach him on the cellphone. Sometimes we just don't think, but act on the emotions that cause us to reach out for comfort and clan. I'm sorry it has hurt you and your dedicated husband. I know it feels like disrespect. I hope the very best for all of you.
Your description of his grandmother is touching and beautiful. You must mean so much to her to be the recipient of her letters.
(((hugs)))
~Teresa

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