Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thankful for..... a lack of privacy

I am still going to be as vague as possible to try to protect the privacy of the people involved, but I want to explain to you why I am so thankful for the extreme visibility of social networking sites, as evidenced by a situation that reached it's pinnacle at 1 am this morning.

My very good friend E is the kind of girl who knows, well, everyone, and the easiest way for her to keep in contact with her large numbers of close friends from various circles is to use social networking web sites. And she is good at it! We have all come to wait with breathless anticipation for her next update. When a her aunt became ill, she used these sites to update friends to her aunt's condition, the highs, the lows, she used the sites to express her varying emotions, and to gather strength and support from her friends.

E and her boyfriend were planning a very big and exciting trip out of the country when her aunt got sick again. After much deliberation, and by her aunt's very strong wishes, the decision was made that they would go ahead and take the trip, and keep E's aunt updated on all their doing via said networking sites. For the first week, it was fine, and E and her boyfriend J got engaged, so of course the sites all exploded with well wishes. But then, at 11 pm Sunday night, E posted that she needed to immediately come home, and we all feared the worst. There she was, in a foreign country, with limited internet and phone access, in desperate need of a flight. Immediately, 35 comments popped up, people from various friend circles getting her flight info, making arrangements, emailing her AAA info, from clear across the globe.

Within 8 hours, we found out she got a flight, and was on her way home, so that she could come see her aunt, who was very sick. Then, she got stuck in the foreign airport with a sick passenger on the plane and tire trouble. She posted frantic messages, and the prayers poured out. After an hour stalled on the tarmac, they got in the air. We made arrangements to go and get E and J at the airport. Last night, three of us traveled to the airport, got E and J and their luggage, and hurried them back to town, as her aunt's condition by this point was looking pretty grave. They desperately wanted to make it in time.

At a little after 1 am this morning, we dropped them off at the place where her aunt is being cared for, took their luggage home, and dropped their car off for them in the parking lot. While I have not talked to E, the updates that I have gotten are that her aunt was relieved to see her, because she had been waiting for her. Today she gets to celebrate E and J's engagement, and talk about wedding plans with them.

All of this occurred because of the extreme visibility afforded by social networking sites. I have, in the past, caught a lot of flack for sharing so much of my life with people via these sites. In the wee hours of the morning, I remembered why I do. Real connections can be made, and maintained, through sites like these, and blogs like mine. In the past 24 hours, prayers poured forth from hundreds of people, many of whom have never met each other, and people were able to spring into action to get E home, all because we choose to share ourselves. So, I, for one, am not going to stop sharing myself. And I hope you do not either.