My Year in Review Comes Down to One

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Into the fog by raindog

Into the fog by raindog

This time of year is ripe for reflection about the year past and prognostication about the year to come. Best-of lists, predictions for the new year, goals – many good & inspiring thoughts and ideas, but they’re so numerous it can become hard to digest even one more.

But I hope you will take just a little time to digest this one.

As I thought about the year past, all of the power of social media came down to one thing.

It wasn’t new in 2008, but it was new to me.

The most truly powerful communication and social media tool I used last year was CaringBridge. It’s a free, non-profit service for individuals or families during times of illness or treatment. It allows you to create a personalized website (either public or private) with a journal/blog-like feature, a section for photographs, a welcome or background page, and a guestbook for people to sign and leave messages.

It’s a service I hope most of you will never need, but it’s important, and it’s important to know it exists should you, or anyone you know, find yourself in need.

I was referred to this service during a time of intense family crisis last spring. During family crises, just like business crises, it can become difficult and burdensome to communicate. Have we communicated with everyone we need to? Have we forgotten anyone? Does everyone have the same information or the information they need? These questions are pretty universal, during any crisis. But all the updates, all the repetition – it can be crushing during a personal crisis.

CaringBridge was a lifeline for my family. The founder of CaringBridge describes it as a kind of “compassion technology,” combining “the human elements of care and concern with the Internet’s ability to connect people.” The private site we created gave us one central place to keep far-flung family and friends informed, and we drew strength from the messages of support from around the world.

Often with social media, we focus on what the tool or service is, versus what it does.

This is a powerful example of the doing. And something I will try to take with me into the new year.

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