Two Facebook Posts and A Funeral

Writen by: Hank Wethington

Posted on 29 September 2009

It’s odd to be talking about Facebook, or social medial in general when in the past I’ve been so against it. Yes, there are fun things happening, and connections from long lost friends, but it is also a time sink and in some ways, kinda creepy. Sure, reconnecting before the high school reunion, or just knowing the daily ins and outs of friends and family is great, but more importantly, social media crosses life networks.

What are life networks? For myself, I have a work network, a church network, a school network, a personal network, family network, well, you get the point. However, how many people in my work network know people in my church network? This separation is normally a good thing. I don’t necessarily want work to cross over into my “normal” life, but what if something happened to me? How would my loved ones contact each of my separate networks? This situation recently happened and Facebook became a tool for good.

Flash back a few weeks ago. Two people whom I know through work, went out on a motorcycle ride at lunch. One of them never returned. News reports started coming in. Phone calls, forum posts, all were a buzz with information, but they were all very light on details. Names hadn’t been released to the press, but there were those of us who knew people out that day and wanted, no, needed to know what was going on. A few hours after the accident, a shared friend and one close to the situation made a post that would forever change my view of social media when he posted a “good bye” on our friends wall. That good bye said everything I needed to know. What would happened next was even more profound.

Within an hour, other friends, some shared, some not, posted good byes and condolences on the lost riders wall. Over the next few days, the heart felt sorrow and out pouring of grief was stunning to watch. Daily, sometimes, many times a day, I would refresh to read the good byes. Finally, one of the most amazing uses of social media I’ve ever seen; my friends mother and sister posted on his wall the details of his funeral. His family lived in a different state, and certainly had no way of contacting all the people that crossed all of his different life networks… except for one: Facebook.

In that wall post, his family was able to bring together all of his different life networks under one roof to say good bye. To get to meet so many of the people that mattered to him, where he spent his life, where he worked and the people he hung out with made Facebook priceless to his family, and showed me it’s not all about the games or silly posts, but real life happens happens on those pages as well.

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