To Live & Die By Social Media

I like many people can be found on a myriad of social networks.  We all use these networks for different things: to give, receive, share.  I virtually live on Twitter. I remember when I started living on Facebook.  It was the place to “find me” if you needed me – (Mom).  Yes, when I moved to another country with a twelve hour time difference, I found it difficult to keep in touch with good friends and family via “email” – as if it were some ancient form of inconvenient communication or the phone.  Facebook was great.  One status to my 800 and something friends and BAM!, everyone knew everything.  (I am still a Facebook purist by the way – I actually know them all.)  I have friends who joined Facebook specifically to keep in touch with me.  I put my parents on it.  Convenient. All my contact details, my travel schedule, where to find me. Or so I thought.

Well, these days, I am on Twitter.  Facebook too, but if you need me and you need me now, Twitter is the way to go.  People that know me well know to DM (direct message) me if they want my attention.  I felt that way until I was in California on a business trip recently.  I had my Hong Kong phone off and only gave my US number to my parents and the people I needed to speak to in the US.  I woke up to someone knocking on my door at the crack of dawn, as it turns out not looking for me.  Frustrated I was woken I opened my laptop, loaded Tweetdeck and in the DM column among a bunch of Spam and Auto welcome DMs was:

“The Memorial Service for Steve is Sunday at 1”.

I’ll pause while you take that in.

What? Memorial Service? What do you mean “Memorial Service”???? This was the first I was hearing that my dear friend had even passed away.  I had to deduce it from those brief words.  No one knew how to get a hold of me, and the person who sent the tweet assumed I knew.  Through a Tweet. I found out my friend died through a Tweet. The more insane thing is to confirm he had in fact passed away I had to go to his Facebook page.  I had no one’s phone number to call to find out what had happened until a mutual friend messaged her phone number.  There were already messages of condolence posted on his page.  I sat there alone in my hotel room and cried at my computer screen.  No social network could possibly replace the voice or hug of a friend that I wish I had at that moment.

This experience isn’t going to make me change the way I communicate, but perhaps reflect how I want to be communicated with. It is just one of those situations that makes you take a step back and ask, “I know I’m approachable, but am I accessible to the people in my life that matter?”

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