August 05, 2007

Facebook / Twitter / Blogs / MySpace / LinkedIn

I learned of an elderly man who passed away last night. On Tuesday, the caregivers realized that this individual had little time left. They notified hospice, and alerted the family to the condition of this individual.

The children of this elderly man arrived on Wednesday. Each individual slept in the same room with their father, through Friday evening. On Saturday, it became apparent the individual wasn't going to make it through the day.

I asked the caregivers if the elderly man died peacefully. He didn't. Each breath of air became an intense struggle for this individual.

The caregivers, visibly shaken from the experience of caring for a person passing in a difficult way, seemed to have experienced something special. You could see it in their eyes. They witnessed a family sharing the final moments of a long life.

All of these folks had one thing in common ... they went through this experience together, "in person", in one small room. They may have used Twitter, MySpace, Blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instant Messaging, E-Mail, or an antique item called a land-based telephone to communicate with others.

But the most memorable part of their experience occurred "in-person". No stream of 140 words on Twitter could adequately replace this experience. No exciting new Facebook API enriched this process.

Those of us in the online and catalog marketing world have challenges ahead of us. Somehow, we have to use all of the wonderful tools and technologies available to us. But each step that moves us closer to digital 1s and 0s move us a little further away from a genuine human experience.