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Sentimentality in Social Media

My Nana, about 80 years ago.

I admit I’m somewhat of a late bloomer when it comes to social media. I have a Twitter account, but rarely use it. My LinkedIn profile is far from up-to-date. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I become the last of my generation to purchase an iPad. Vehicles for social media seem to create clutter in my life. Not physical, but mental clutter. They can be complicated and confusing at first try, which I think is why I’ve resisted becoming a regular and invested user. 

Well, as it turns out, a recent event in my personal life has helped me to see through the clutter and realize just how useful and productive social media can be. My grandmother (“Nana”) passed away about two weeks ago at the age of 98. Sympathy cards, flowers, hugs and kisses all served to remember and honor my Nana, but it was a blog post, of all things, that paid the most moving tribute.

A writer from the Somerville Journal, who knew my Nana and spent time with her during the last years of her life, wrote a beautiful piece of remembrance and posted it to the Journal’s online blog. She remembered Nana as a feminist who stood up for what she believed in and for whom she believed in, who were oftentimes the other strong women in her life. Making these character traits the focus of the blog post, the writer, who attended the funeral, called attention to the fact that the honorary pallbearers that day were not the young men in Nana’s family, but her granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law, one of whom was nearly nine months pregnant. It was a moving tribute that captured who my Nana was and the way she lived her life, and painted a beautiful picture of her funeral services.  

Unfortunately, not everyone who knew and loved my Nana was able to attend the funeral that day. But, this blog post allowed these friends and family to feel as though they were there. Friends from Saint Ann’s Parish in Somerville could read the piece and picture the scene taking place in the church. One of her grandsons, who lives in Alaska, could envision his female cousins in their role as honorary pallbearers, as he could not be there to see it himself. And I was able to share the blog entry with friends who never had the chance to meet my Nana, but after reading the piece could glean some sense of who she was.

It’s ironic that a tool for social media would be used to honor my Nana, who never once in her 98 years even used a computer. But, it was a beautiful way to remember her and could be shared with friends and family, both near and far. Social media doesn’t need to create clutter – it is what you make it. It’s meant to provide useful information in an efficient and cost-effective manner to the people who care. There are lots of people who cared about my Nana and thanks to the Somerville Journal’s blog and this particular writer, they were all able to share in remembering and loving and in the “conversation” about her.  

This experience has helped me to see social media as a bit less complicated and come to appreciate it for its simple benefits. If my Nana knew what a blog was, I’m sure she would have approved, too.

-Joanna

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