Social media allows people to stay in contact with more people more easily than they were previously able to. This is wonderful for sharing conversations, thoughts, the minutiae of daily lives, but I’ve recently run into a place where it doesn’t work well. Death.
My aunt recently lost her battle with cancer after a 22 year battle. We miss her terribly. Cancer eventually got her, but from the time when she was first diagnosed 22 years ago, she was able to watch her five children grow up, and meet nine of her grandchildren. Along the way she hosted innumerable parties and celebrations in her home and in addition to her own children found time to always help out others as well. This includes her and my uncle opening their home to me when I first moved back to SF after college and didn’t have a place to live yet.
In addition to talking to several of her children, my cousins, regularly I am friends with them on Facebook. When she passed away, it didn’t seem right to post a comment on their page about it and when I saw people that did, it seemed almost trite. Yes, the people on the page were offering condolences but it was lumped into a “wall feed,” along with “I ate cheerios for breakfast,” and “TODAY IS GOING SO SLOW AT WORK!!!.”
My point is context. Think of the context in how you reach out to people. Take the time to write a note. Call. Do something with them. Social media is great, but there are times when you have to break through the fourth wall and be real.