I will be the first person to raise my hand and plead guilty, so please don’t picture me with my nose in the air touting greatness. Instead, picture me clicking “Like” to a social media post instead of taking the time to say a few words. (That is, ‘like’ or ‘+1” or ‘*’.depending on the social media site)
Social media is a powerful tool in our world today. Because of it, we are connected to more people than ever. We connect with old friends, delighted to catch up after sometimes many years. It’s a wonderful way to share family news across the miles. Other times we connect with people who are also experiencing a life event. Topics vary tremendously, including beliefs, travel, parenthood, hobbies, or shared life stages. Other events are traumatic to ourselves and close ones like illness, tragedy, or financial needs. We can now communicate in a truly global way with many despite the fact that we are sitting in a chair, possibly alone in our homes.
Myself — I have connections with friends, family, casual acquaintances. We all have things to share and laugh about. A steady stream of videos fills my feed of crazy and cute. Thought provoking posts help me see things from varying perspectives. I’ve made friends in faraway places and feel like we live next door.
However, what I do find interesting, and a bit disappointing (see finger pointing at myself also), is when people pour their hearts out in a post that we often read, click acknowledgement of, and move to the next post. Especially in closed groups, individuals are reaching out to others who are experiencing things that nobody in their direct daily life can understand. We, fellow members of those groups, are sometimes the only ones who can grasp the severity of what that individual is living – today. Often, we don’t take the opportunity to share our words to let them know they aren’t alone in this world. We don’t take the time to carefully craft a response that really shows that we understand, have answers, or can provide encouragement.
Now, not to be too hard on myself and the rest of us – it does take all of us (no, I’m not going to say a village.) There are days when I don’t login to any of my social media accounts. I disappear for weeks at a time and am not one to post that I just made toast (although I did once post that I made hot chocolate – lol). Sometimes I browse my news feeds just as a nurse calls me into an appointment, not allowing for a wordy response. I cannot, nor can anyone, take the responsibility of always commenting, but we can do our part.
In the acoustic neuroma world, there are new diagnoses every day. I recognize, and clearly remember, the specific shocked state that one goes into when hearing a brain tumor diagnosis. We want to know that we are the exception to the assumption that a brain tumor changes you for life, or ends our long thought out life plans. We learn that it does change everyone, at least emotionally, while retaining goodness and joy regardless of our physical outcome. There is laughter and camaraderie despite being changed physically – some more than others. We do not have all the answers, but we can be there for each other. We can encourage. We can speak and share.
So, in the season of beginnings, let’s think about actually taking the time to let others know that we have heard them. I thank those who have encouraged and commented as I’ve written this blog. It is that encouragement that keeps me writing. Thank you.