Thursday, October 6, 2011

iLife: How Technology Brings Us Closer

With the announcement of Steve Jobs' passing yesterday, I looked immediately to Twitter with a cynical eye. I knew my Twitter stream would be throttled with news, links to blogs, tribute messages, and most likely spam following Jobs' death. All of these suspicions were confirmed to be true and yet, I smiled.

My cynicism turned on its head and I felt joyful so many people were touched by one man's efforts. Everyone knows it took a wildly creative team to create what Apple did. But Steve Jobs represented something special for people all around the world and it was inspiring to see so many tributes being shared.

Today's death notices, as morbid as it sounds, supply a way to share with others no matter what your connection with the deceased. Because one of my dearest friends died before the age of Twitter, Facebook, and smartphones; I remember him in my mind's eye. I have no pictures, no posts, nothing to remember Jim by outside of my memories. He had no online memorial and I have no way to share with others who loved him, too. Today that makes me feel like he was buried without a tombstone. I have no virtual place to visit and feel connected.

Here in the world of the living, I've witnessed the healing power of community via technology on my own. For a little while I've been living through my own personal Mystery Diagnosis episode and because of my communication online, I've been able to keep up with my friends in spite of having to miss lovely events and conferences that I'd prefer to have attended. Facebook messages, Beluga messages, tweets, and all manner of online notes greet me almost daily with positive thinking and messages to get better. What would I do without today's technology, social media to be exact?

I've been able to learn from community sites with people going through similar medical issues and they have helped me to hone the questions I ask doctors to save time. I've read up on studies and research to help me with symptoms in the meantime.

Ironically, Steve Jobs enabled us to better grieve his passing with his guiding hand on communication's tools. He's enabled me to "be there" faster (faster than I could be physically) as my family has experienced deaths, disaster, and illnesses this year.

Blog posts that assume technology makes us colder make me angry. My connections through Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to heal old wounds with friends, connect with relatives I'd lost track of, and lead members of my home town (Joplin, Missouri) to areas of safety after an EF-5 tornado when calls weren't going through.

I posit technology brings us closer together, helping us to unite in ways never seen before. Pollyanna viewpoint? Perhaps. But I'll stick with it and run. How about you?

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