I try to share learning with my students that is both relevant and creative. I do a little section on Media Literacy and identity theft, and how to behave ethically online. I will give them a variety of examples of what they may….and may not….want to share on Facebook or Twitter. Usually I encourage them to consider implications in the future of posting something stupid today. But I’ve never considered them documenting a life-changing event on Facebook, and why that might be a good idea.
I got word today at lunch time that one of our students in grade 9 lost his father. Unexpectedly, in his sleep, with no prior warning. A man in reasonable health, in his mid-forties, with a good job and a great family life by all accounts, a solid marriage. A man I knew to be a supportive and enthusiastic dad.
The boy’s friends started texting him this morning when he didn’t show up for school, long before we got the official word. When he didn’t reply to texts, someone opened up Facebook to see if he had posted anything there. And he had. He reported the overnight death of his father.
Facebook, and other social media, has lots of negative qualities. Those qualities are what kept it blocked at school up until this year. It can be an arena for bullying and gossip. It can be a time vampire, with its Farmville and frequent status updates. But today, I was reminded again of why I consider my “real” life and “virtual” life to be one in the same…..today my life was touched by a tragic event in someone else’s. Why would I be any less impacted because it was shared on facebook? Answer: I wasn’t.
Jared, you are in my thoughts. And when I share this, even people who don’t know you will be thinking of you too.