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.

5 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more.

    And yet, I immediately thought of a friend of mine who texted me just this morning to say that after months of waiting, her father was going in for a heart transplant. They'd found a donor! This friend lives far away, and was likely in the thick of preparations to be with her dad at this scary time.

    Certainly a phone call or even an email would have been too difficult in the flurry of the day. Especially since we are friends who may communicate once a month.

    Before this technology, I might have learned of this huge event in her life AFTER the fact. This way, at least I could text back and mention that her dad -- and her family -- are in my prayers. And I could actually take the time to say a prayer or two that whatever the outcome, things will turn out as they should for this man and his daughter.

    That can't be a bad thing, right? :-)

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  2. Nope, that's a good thing!

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  3. Avinash Kaushik9:58 AM

    I am in the middle of 150 unread "business" blog posts this one was a refreshing and welcome change.

    Very thoughtful Kevin, thanks so much for sharing.

    Does put things into context.

    -Avinash.

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  4. Agree w/ the thought, but its important to remember what online networking allows. In the past, college friends, past colleagues, and etc were difficult to stay in touch with. Balancing family, careers, etc made it difficult to find time to call or even write a detailed email. Online networking allows people to stay in touch - so that when situations arise such as illness - your extended network becomes aware and are able to help.

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  5. True, when used as you state, there's no doubt those technologies are beneficial.

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