The Power and Comfort of our Social Networks

I resisted joining Facebook a few years ago, thinking it wasn't for me. Too public. Too young. Too frivolous. A waste of time. I didn't see the point.

But I joined because a favorite client asked me to. He invited me to connect and "friend" him and his (from my perspective) young, hip, digitally-saavy team members, in preparation for some work we planned to do together.

And now I'm so glad that I did. It's actually a little bit difficult to remember what communication was like before joining Facebook. And it's definitely hard to imagine how this past week would have been different without the ability to communicate in real time, with hundreds of close and not so close friends around the world, and receive updates from them when disaster struck in Japan.

For me it started with a text message from my husband, Skip, who was traveling home from a quick trip to Shanghai, China. The first message said, "in an earthquake at Narita now…people screaming!" then another, 20 minutes later, "turn on the news…this ain't a good time to be in Tokyo…it's nuts!!"

FYI–Skip is home safe and sound now, after only a 24-hour delay—a minor inconvenience compared to the scope and scale of the real tragedy that's still unfolding across Japan

But for the next few hours on Thursday night/Friday morning, I went back and forth between CNN and e-mails from Skip. My husband doesn't "do Facebook," so I posted a status update and almost immediately got a note from our friend, Bill, saying "hey, I'm in Tokyo too. At the office. All OK, but really freaky!" Other people reached out to me with comforting words, and to others with questions or news about the whereabouts and safety of family members, friends, and colleagues. 

As the hours wore on I found myself gravitating more and more often to Facebook. Friends were posting links to updates from the Japanese news stations, making it easy to get a broader perspective than CNN was offering at the time. They shared links to Mercy Corps and the Red Cross websites, making it easier to spread the word about how we could make donations, and start to alleviate some of our feelings of total helplessness. 

When I posted "Skip's home" on my Facebook status Saturday morning, I was humbled by the number of "likes" and comments that came back to us almost immediately, from friends around the world.

Powerful and comforting.

Now, I see the point. 





  1. Wow, what amazing timing on that layover. I’m glad your husband is home safe!

  2. Ann Marie says:

    Thanks, Roy—and I hope your friends and colleagues in Japan are safe too!

Speak Your Mind