Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watching someone die on Twitter

I know what death is like. People close to me have died, and three years ago my friend, mentor, boss and pastor died suddenly in an accident. I'll never forget that afternoon as the story unfolded, as the news came in piece by piece through phone calls and texts, when his wife came to the office to be told "officially" by the police, as members of the church went to stand vigil and pray around his body where he lay in the street. It was truly a black and terrible day.

Yesterday I watched someone die on twitter.

I follow quite a few twitterers, one of them being Michael Hyatt whom I met at the Recreate conference I attend in the USA.  He posts about his life as a CEO of a major publishing company.

Michael was first with the news:

michaelhyatt: Please pray for @handsdance. She came home and found her husband unconscious. We need a miracle here. 

Then his wife Gail sent this:

gailhyatt: Please pray for @handsdance. She came home and found her husband unconscious. She's very scared. 911 is there. 

and then

gailhyatt: Please pray for @handsdance. She came home & found her husband unconscious. She's very scared. 911 is there. No pulse.

So I prayed and then this came through:

gailhyatt: Thank you everyone praying for my precious Twitter friend @handsdance's husband. It's not looking good. She's so scared. 

And then I clicked on @handsdance to find out who she was and found this:

@handsdance: Thanks to everyone who's praying for me.. My hubby is with Jesus.. Family here & my parents are on way..

Oh. My.

It's very strange having watched this tragedy unfold thousands of miles away through my impersonal and remote computer screen, knowing @handsdance's life is totally and irrevocably changed, understanding a small portion of what she is experiencing, feeling a connection through my friend, Michael and yet, at the same time, not knowing really anything about what is going on there.

Twitter is amazing at getting news out to the big wide world, such as with the Hudson River plane crash in New York, and even though that news concerns people I've never met and communities I am not physically part of, as I was watching it unfold in real time I felt part of it even though I'm not and I will continue to pray for @handsdance.

I think I feel shocked because news on the TV and in the newspaper and on news websites is still impersonal - we have become immune to the impact it should have on our lives, and so to feel emotionally drawn in to this story has really surprised me.

I think we're all still trying to work this twitter thing out.

It's a strange beast.

Posted via email from Jafferblog


Rissa said...

a day or so before the funeral I found out about your post.. I think Gail tweeted about it and shared it with me.. I read it but never commented.. till now.. so sorry in my delay... but i just wanted to say a big thank you for the prayers...

Life hasn't been easy...but i know who holds my future..God has plans for me... even though i dont know exactly what they are.. but I know where James is.. and am so thankful for the time i had with him.. and look forward to seeing him again.. I'm thankful that he's getting what we all desire the most.. to be in the presence of our Lord...

SO.. that being said.. I just wanted to say a thank you for posting this.. thank you for the prayers.. and the support..

May God Bless you richly....

Mark Jaffrey said...

Dear Rissa,

Thank you so much for leaving these kind words on my blog. Your encouragement is much appreciated. Our prayers are still with you as you continue to walk through your grief and adjust to life without James.

God bless you!