The Value of Social Media for Communications During a Family Emergency

socialmedialogo

You never know when life will throw a curveball at you and when those unexpected events occur it can be very challenging keeping everyone updated on what is happening.  We have already seen social media used as a tool to share information during major crisis events like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. but what about when something happens on a lower scale.

Take for instance this past weekend for my wife and I.  It began very normally with both of us preparing for our day long classes on Saturday.  However, while about two hours away for her class, my wife started experiencing severe abdominal pain that resulted in her being taken to the ER at about 3 AM Saturday morning.  Within an hour I was on my way to join her at the hospital where she had been diagnosed with acute appendicitis which would of course require emergency surgery.

In the days before social media and email the phone was the main means of communicating to family and friends that a situation was occurring. When cell phones and texting came on the scene they helped but it still required an individual message to family and some friends to keep them up to date.

For quite a while now sites have existed that would let someone create an individual portal to keep family and friends updated on a loved one’s illness, typically a long term one, which allows interaction by the visitors with their words of encouragement.

However, for the situation we faced a site like that does not make sense. I chose to use Facebook as the means to keep everyone updated because of a few reasons:

  • Most of our family and friends we wanted to keep updated are on Facebook.
  • By creating a single post and then adding updates to the comments on that post instead of starting a new post it would notify most everyone of updates via a notification email.  No need for constant checking on their part.
  • It gave me one place to go to update the majority of family and friends who were concerned about the situation and wanted to be kept up to date.
  • It was great to share the thoughts, prayers and encouragement that were pouring in from around the world with my wife.

Although there were some of my wife’s friends who were in contact via text messages, email and phone calls it was easier to manage those by keeping everyone else updated on Facebook.

So as much as we knock it sometimes there is true value in a medium like Facebook for making communications in an emergency situation simpler. When your focus is pulled in many different directions  being able to simplify the status updates throughout takes care of some of that stress.

Note: The surgery went well and we are now home with my wife recuperating.

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