Social networks are very controversial. In fact, I just wrote a post examining the problems with Facebook.
As of this writing, Facebook became a lifeline for me. My niece and my father are both having surgery. My niece took a bad fall on the ice and broke her leg in three places requiring surgery to reconstruct her with pins. My father went in for an angioplasty to find out that he needs bypass surgery. He’s 82 and I’m worried.
After a day like this I feel very isolated and alone. I have family and relatives all across New England and the United States. Keeping the family in the loop comes naturally. I find a certain solace and comfort in sharing difficult times. I’m less alone. However, when the responsibilities lie heavy on my shoulders in addition to the emotional burdens, some of the natural communication becomes difficult.
Posting to a Facebook wall helps. Distant relatives that I met six months ago are connected. Family separated by time zones are connected. Adult children separated by busy schedules are connected. And my brother riding the train with me is connected. We share a laugh as I have forgotten that he can see my wall posts. I had interrupted my networking to fill him in on some news.
Unexpected support from friends comes in — new resources that none of us would have been able to coordinate prior to the “cloud” and social networks. Somehow, reducing those degrees of separation.
I can scarcely understand the suffering in strife-torn Egypt. Before today, I felt mostly shock at the loss of support when Egypt cut off Twitter and Facebook. Now, I have begun to have a sense of their isolation and loss. I read an editorial by a young woman who was disgusted that so much of the news focused on the impact of social networks on a revolution and not on the revolution itself. To her, social networks are as normal a part of life as the telephone and hardly news-worthy.
I wonder how much the average young American takes social networks for granted? All the Tweets that fly while gaggles of young girls flock to the mall or party? The Facebook posts that are of life and death value. Those of us who were already adults when Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter came into being remember a very different world. The face of society is changing with the impact of social networks.
Social networks are as integral to a revolution as the individuals themselves. In addition to aiding tactical support these lines of communication provide something more vital: soul force. Martin Luther King, whose birthday we just celebrated knew the value of it. “Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
Perhaps as our new world evolves, we will find those who utilize social networks to meet physical force with soul force. It looks like the Egyptians have a head start.
For my own challenges, I will gather the support of my friends and family for the rough road ahead.