Twitter. Just hearing that word used to make me think of celebrities posting for a popularity contest -- I was not impressed. But a recent article has me seeing the use of this social media in a different light.
A recent article regarding NPR commentator Scott Simonís journey as his mother was dying showed how social media has made a positive impact.
By using Twitter, Simon communicated his fears and feelings to 1.2 million followers during her dying process. In 140 characters, he captured so much of the roller coaster associated with a dying loved one and the eventual acceptance of her impending death.
For example, he wrote about holding his motherís hand and that he hadnít done that since he was nine, and then wondered why he had stopped doing it. These brief moments of such personal experiences were an outlet for Simon and provided a lot of support to his followers.
Apparently, many shared their own personal experiences as well, and provided support to Simon as he sat at his motherís bedside in an ICU in Chicago. Reading these Tweets made me think about how social media and technology are changing the way people grieve.
There are many other examples out there of how social media and technology are changing how we deal with loss and illness. Facebook is filled with people sharing personal experiences. Some people are using it to make an announcement about a family memberís death and then receiving condolence messages. Sites like CaringBridge create a way for friends to keep informed via email about a personís progress through an illness and in return to offer messages of support.
An example of using technology that I remember was a dying patient whose family was in Russia. The family could not get to the US to be with their dying loved one, so a local friend set up Skype with the camera focused on the patient so that the family in Russia could feel part of the process.
Using social media as a way to stay involved, express feelings, and gain support seems like a great way to reach out, considering we now live in a world where technology often makes us more isolated.
We usually think of grief as a personal, intimate experience -- is social media and technology beginning to change us to be more open and accepting of facing uncomfortable, distressing feelings? Can it help us break through the forbidden discussion of death?
What experiences have you had with the use of social media and technology changing the way we deal with loss and grief?
I havenít joined Twitter yet, but I am certainly thinking about it now...