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Facebook for family emergencies

Posted by Meg Bear on November 24, 2008


facebookLate last week my uncle had a stroke.  For those of you familiar with stroke, there are a lot more questions than answers initially, so I have no additional information to share on that front.  The point of this post is the surprising role of Facebook.

As the youngest, my role in family-crisis-response is pretty lame.  Receive phone calls, offer help that is refused, that sort of thing.  It is my sister who has the actual work of talking on the phone for hours giving updates.  Possibly it is penance for hogging the phone during our junior high years but I digress.

On Saturday morning, she called me asking for contact information for a cousin that lives in the south bay that I didn’t have.   It seems that directory assistance had their information blocked.  I had address information (as part of my general belief that no one can enjoy their holidays without photo cards of my children) but no phone or email.  I did remember that her son had a website at one point, so I went Googling for answers.

Now the “cousin” I was googling is technically a second-third-cousin-twice-removed (or something like that).  We share common great-grandparents who we have never met.  But his mother, is my uncles actual cousin, you know the kind you spend every family holiday with growing up.  

Anyway, I sit down intending to do real investigative work and instead my search finds him on Facebook as the third hit in the list.  Not only that, it turns out you can send email to someone on Facebook before you even get a “Friend” acknowledgement.  Sweet.

So within 20 minutes, I not only had two new friends (his mom is there too), I had a text message with his mothers phone number and a call from her for which I had the opportunity to say “hey, nice to hear from you, haven’t seen you in ages, your cousin is in the hospital“.  Yup, I’m all about the soft delivery of information.

So, for all my deflecting of serious emotion with humor here, I am thankful to Facebook for helping me and my family out this weekend.   I am now rethinking my privacy settings to make myself searchable from google.  Sure, I might have some spam I need to delete but maybe, just maybe, there is a message out there I would want to get in.  You never know.

3 Responses to “Facebook for family emergencies”

  1. GretchenA said

    100% agree. In our recent family emergency there was no way I could get to everyone who needed to know what was going on. I had a whole “do I/don’t I” debate on how much information to post on FB and tried to strike a balance. The messages of support from friends far and near were exactly what I needed, and I knew I could count on FB friends to help – including recommendations for specialists, and suggestions for additional research. It’s a whole new approach to getting help, and very much appreciated.

  2. Mike said

    Great story! I’ve also had friends use their own and their family member’s Facebook pages as, essentially, CaringBridge sites. Similarly, my father-in-law passed away last February but his Facebook page remains up and open for friends and family to post remembrances and say hi. Recently, he even started responding back. Apparently, unlike some organizations, heaven has not banned Facebook🙂

  3. […] his local water district.  He was also genetically predisposed to a heart condition, suffered a recent stroke and was a committed  smoker for several […]

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