Thursday, February 28, 2013

Social Media

When I was reading some of the replies to my blog on Compassion yesterday I found it interesting that Anne mentioned social media and the impact it has on us.

I'm 46 and although I do use the Internet for many things I had no idea how big a role it played in my life.  I had been meaning to write about it so thank you Anne for reminding me.
A lot has changed electronically since I was in high school.  I graduated in 1984 and there were no cellphones.  None of the kids I went to school with carried anything like that.  "Pagers" were the first big thing I remember and when one of those went off the person had to go find a regular phone to return the call to whatever phone number was paging.  I never had one.
My first cell phone was in 1989 and it was one of those huge "bag phones."  It had an actual full size receiver and cradle, the same as one that hangs on a wall.  It was so heavy, like toting luggage.  I used to take it with me when I sold real estate and I thought I was so cool because I could make phone calls while I sat doing an open house on a Sunday afternoon.

As time progressed the phones got smaller and smaller and thinner and thinner.  Then the whole World Wide Web was new and exciting too.  I remember the first computer I ever ordered was enormous.  The monitor weighed a ton and had a gigantic back.  It stuck way out from the wall just like the old TV sets did.  The hard drive was completely separate and took up its own massive space.  Of course computers are slimmer now too.  We also have laptops and iPads, etc. which are so much easier to transport and quick to navigate compared to the "old days".
When I was in school our big electronics were Walkmans.  First the one that held a cassette and then the one that used a CD.  Our parents didn't spend a lot like they do now.  Have you read the kids Christmas lists these days?  They're filled with electronic "wants.”  Their two year phone contract can't expire fast enough for them because a new and improved product comes so fast.  It's mind blowing.
When I went to college there was nothing being offered as a major in Social Media.  There was Communications and Journalism but nothing like what is being offered today.  It's quite interesting and a whole new avenue of communications that has created a variety of career opportunities.  

I hadn't given much thought to social media before Chris passed.  I do recall being at the hospital and the Chaplain asked me where Jeremy was.  When I told her he was away at college she insisted we get hold of him before social media did.  I was so confused.  It never crossed my mind he might find out before I actually got to tell him in person.

My mind was swimming with panic to get to Jeremy quick.  My nightmare of losing one son was magnified by the pressure of connecting with the other son before some random Internet post got to him first.  If ever I experienced terror, the night at the hospital was it.  I’ll never get over it nor will I forget it.
Thank God almighty I got to Jeremy first.  I cannot imagine him reading about it!  There is relief for me in that.  I'm so thankful.  When so many others found out so much earlier and the news spread like wildfire, God provided me the opportunity to tell Jeremy about his brother.  That was a blessing.  I didn't get to tell him in person like I would have preferred but I got him by phone and that was as good as I could have hoped for with the travel distance between us.  I couldn't leave the hospital to go get him.  The hospital waiting room was filled with family and football players and parents and coaches and the texts and Internet posts were running wild and Jeremy never saw.  Thank you Lord!!

So there's quite a lot to social media in my life; in all of our lives.  It's here to stay.  It's an instant connection to one another and although I do find it to be a very good thing, it can also cause panic.  It did for me that night.  I was scared to death.  But look what else it has done.  It's caused us to connect and share thoughts and stories.  The good outweighs the bad.  I choose to use this blog and any of my other posts for positive reasons. 
I hope you will too.  

Thank you for reading.


  1. How terrifying of a situation to be in! I completely understand. I have a similar story. My cousin, Sam, was 19 years old and at college when the worst happened. He and his brother had both been diagnosed with a serious heart disorder a couple years prior and had been told, although they were star athletes and sports were their lives, that they simply couldn't do anything like that anymore. One day, Sam decided while at school to play a little game of pick up basketball with his friends. We'll never know why he chose to do that, but he ended up going into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the scene. The worst part about everything was that my cousin, his sister, got texts and Facebook messages about it while she was walking through her high school hallway... she found out through a text message that said, "Im so sorry. He was an amazing person."

    I'm so glad you got to Jeremy first. It's so, so important.

  2. Not that its any of our business, but I had wondered if you were able to reach him first. Our friends were on their way home from a dinner party at our house the night of the accident and stuck on northway during the crash. We were getting texts about what they saw before it was on the news! Social Media is a double edged sword in my oppinion, but like I have said before good always comes with the bad. In light of the latest news reports and social media stuff your perspective never ceases to amaze me. I am not sure how you stay so positive with all that has happened, and I'd like to think for one minute its because of the outpouring of all the good from these sites and the community that embraces you rather the few bad eggs that try to mess up all the good that has been done. You all remain in our prayers, thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow.Thank the lord you were able to get to Jeremy first. I can relate to not having social media growing up also. I was born in 73 so I myself had Walkmans, pagers, and a big t.v. Versus what my kids have today. Social media has it's good and bad. Don't really care for all the bullying that goes on behind a screen, it can really hurt ones feelings. But on the up side of social media we were all able to connect with you, which I am very grateful for. My daughter also follows Bailey on Twitter which she shares with me from time to time. Imagine if our kids had to go back to the things were when we were growing up..hahahhaha Well a big thank you to your friend Mike for setting up this blog for us to connect.. god Bless Mrs. Stewart and hope you have a Great day....xxxxxxxx

  4. My daughter found out through Twitter the next morning. She had gone to bed early and thankfully got a good night's sleep for the week ahead. However in the morning I heard a blood-curdling scream. I thought she had to have been injured and ran to her room to try to figure out her words through the hysteria. One of the worst mornings ever. I'm so glad you got to Jeremy first. Nothing could really ease the pain at that point... except maybe a mother's voice. I was really grateful for social media from then forward however. It has played such a huge role in connecting us all in our web of compassion.

  5. Unfortunately, I have found out about a lot of deaths, engagements, pregnancies, etc. through Facebook. I often say I hate Facebook because I would much rather find out a death in person than through online. It makes it more heartbreaking. I'm glad you were able to tell Jeremy on the phone (although of course we would all rather you never had to tell him at all!)

  6. Regina,

    Social medias are great for catching up with people and finding friends whom we haven't had contact with in years, sharing pictures and videos right away that we would otherwise have to wait to see, also for reaching out and feeling the positive like this blog and the power of the 518.

    I am all for advancement in technology. As a coach it is great to send out one text to 20 kids rather than make 20 phone calls…it is amazingly time saving. I get to stay closer to my family who lives in the 585, I see pictures and post on FB to keep in touch. It is great to have a phone, so your kid isn't waiting to be picked up if they are let out early (having 2 daughters this is very important to me) I don't want them waiting around alone after everyone left to go home, that kind of scares me. If your car breaks down having access to cell phones is a great. I can Skype with my kids who are away at school and it is like they are in the next room.

    But, with any thing new and fascinating it also comes with some (many) negative sides.

    Bullying is at an all time new high thanks to social media sites. Kids can not see what their post do to hurt someone, they can not see the individuals facial expression or feel their emotions so they feel freer to say things that are damaging, things if they were face to face with someone they would normally say because they feel the safety through post. It is like they can post whatever they want without guilt because they can not see the hurt they are causing.

    Kids struggle communicating verbally because they have not practiced these skills because everything is texted, tweeted or posted on FB.

    I truly think parents/schools need to restrict and supervise kids’ use of technology. We should start offering curriculum on proper social media etiquette and limit use... If more parents were in touch with this and put parental restriction on social media site and the use of technology I think we would have a lot less issues with some of the negative consequences we are seeing from kids dealing with cyber bullying...Ok I am stepping down off my soap box...just some thoughts as to the issues I see social media/technology are causing...

    For the most part advancements in technology are great and we are headed in the right direction… but, there needs to be rules, guidelines and restrictions on use,just like any new tool kids need to be taught to use it so that they don't get hurt and nobody else will either..

    I can not tell you how grateful I am that Jeremy found out by you and Mike and NOT from a tweet/text/FB. I can imagine your panic...not good!!!! I am glad you got to him first...

    God Bless, XO

  7. Good morning Regina. The luxury of me having today off and being stuck in a hotel for the time being, I can respond to you early.

    I am in the same boat as you (since we have determined we are virtually the same age) but I graduated in '83 with no cell phones; went to business school and learned to type on a MANUAL typewriter before electric ones even came out, and the list goes on. My first cell phone wasn't as complicated as yours though!! I held out for quite a long time before I got one.

    I actually wondered how you got in touch with Jeremy. I'm glad he heard from you before he got a text or saw something on facebook. I'm so sorry he was so far away from you at the time.

    I have my positive and negatives about social media, and chose to focus on the positive. I love keeping in touch with family and friends as we have them all over the place. Like Ally, my friends are spread out so far and the only thing that keeps us up-to-date is facebook, texting... I don't do twitter, instagram, snapchat, just email and facebook... I didn't even get facebook until a few short years ago. I got it just before my son went off to college so we can keep in touch. Skype was basically the only way my daughtger had a daily relationship with her boyfriend who lived so far away.

    I do think that parents have allowed kids at way too young an age to get their hands on this "technology" and the handful that use it negatively are unfortunate. I blame the parents. I have had this conversation with my sister who has a 9 year old and a 7 year old and they know how to surf the net, and get on youtube and stuff, play on iPads and have laptops. I don't agree with it. She justifies it that they use iPads in school, but that doesn't mean they should have it at home without supervision. She will believe me some day, mark my words.

    I love that social media has become a good outlet for you and a good support system. It wouldn't be physically possible to have the depth of support that you have now, and for that, I'm focusing on the positive of social media.

    As I end this, I would ask a small favor. Please keep my father in your prayers. I'm supposed to see him tomorrow for the first time in 13 months and am now waiting to hear if I can. He lives in assisted living and is dealing with MRSA and I'm waiting to see if he gets hospitalized and if Ally and I can visit with him. I've been so looking forward to taking him out to lunch when we get to Pittsburgh and this news I wasn't expecting. I'm used to his health issues, just didn't expect for this to happen. I'm the only sibling that actually likes to visit with him and this visit tomorrow was so important on so many levels... Prayers would be appreciated.

    God bless... you are in my thoughts and prayers!

    1. Hi Justine,

      I just said a prayer for you and your dad. I hope you get to see him. It is scary when our parents get older and their health starts to fail(I get to see my mom this weekend thanks to a recruiting trip Vince has to make to Rochester)...{She gave us quite a scare last year, so I know how nerve wracking an aging parent health can be!)I didn't get to see her at Christmas so I am grateful to take a personal day to do it!.. God Bless, XO Annie

    2. Justine,

      Sorry to hear this.. Also just said a prayer for the both of you. Leave it in God's hands is all you can do..
      Good thoughts sent your way..


    3. I said a prayer for you too. This is a nice little group. We support each other... kind-of like a virtual family. You will be in my prayers tonight. Make the moments count. I'm sure you will. Hug lots of course too.

      Good vibes,

    4. Justine,

      Hoping you and Ally were able to visit your dad. Prayers and hugs sent your way!

  8. This post as many others hit home. We were at the hospital making arrangements for notifications and our younger son was staying over night with a friend.The suggestion was to get him and tell him in the morning. Thank God my instincts were right and we went to get him right away. Posts were made throughout the night on facebook, etc. before we were able to contact all family members. Either way finding out was terrible. I am just relieved my children heard from us.

  9. Hi Regina,

    I do agree that social media has been mainly a wonderful thing.. But like everything it has it's down sides. It's hard to not let some crush your spirit or to discuss something that should be kept to a private conversation. People need to learn to filter what's being said in a large forum and think about the ramifications of these posts or tweets.
    With that said.. Thank God you did get to Jeremy first.. But I'm sure you wish you could have done it in person.
    I do FB but have no clue as to tweet etc.. I know we all have to adapt and move on. It would be hard to dig your heels in the sand and not learn some of the newer technology. I actually knew a couple of people that don't have a computer! What would you do in this day and age without one! I can not imagine!
    As I said before there are positives and negatives to everything.. It's all about moderation..

  10. Regina-
    I'm glad I had a busy work day and was not able to respond this morning as usual. Something small but wonderful happened and I want to share it with you. One of my dearest friends has a 9 year old son, one day older than my daughter. During our pregnancies, there were all the shared fantasies about the kids, but at 5 weeks Connor began having seizures. He has West syndrome and is basically incapacitated. Over the years, it has been difficult to come up with the right things to say to her. Every little thing my daughter achieves is a reminder of what we expected him to be doing but isn't. She's having a tough time because one of his special ed classmates passed away 2 weeks ago. She's facing the fact that it could be Connor at any time. He was not expected to live past two. Anyway, I have found new inspiration in your blog and have been sharing things with her- quotes, ideas, advice on how NOT to extend condolences ;-), and most recently, some thoughts about the 100%. This afternoon, she quoted it back to me and expressed appreciation for a new catch-phrase! See, small but wonderful. This experience that you are sharing with us has a far reaching effect if we all make the choice to take it off the social media and apply it to tangible life.
    I believe that God gave you a gift by protecting Jeremy until you were able to contact him directly, and I say Amen to that! I'm so glad that you feel the good outweighs the bad and that you are giving yourself the gift of self expression through this blog (Thanks to Mike!) Wishing you a wonderful evening. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Regina,

    Thankfully you were able to get to Jeremy by phone, if not in person. How horrible it would have been had he found out via social media. That thought would not have crossed my mind either!

    So many changes have occurred in the electronic world in my life time! I'm a tad bit older than you...51 and damn proud. I call it the fabulous fifties! I remember when tv was only available in black and white, with rabbit ears and THREE stations. My kids look at me like I come from another planet when I talk about this! LOL! My aunt and uncle had a color tv first and when a holiday special came on, we were treated to going to their house to watch it in color!! Then there was PONG, the original tv video game and it really blows my kids mind when I tell them how much FUN my friends and I had hanging out playing that! Transistor radios were the bomb in my day!! Walkmans...I paid $100 for my first one and it came with portable speakers. I bought it in St. Croix! And now in today's world it amazes me what a phone can do! I still don't have a smart phone. I always end up giving my upgrade to one of my kids who seem to need one because theirs is on it's last leg which is okay for now because I love the keyboard on my Envy 3!

    I remember when my kids first were using e-mail as a way to communicate with their friends. Then they graduated to instant messaging! We were first introduced to facebook when my daughter went to college in '05. At that time you had to have an e-mail address with .edu to get a facebook account! Now it seems the kids are using twitter even more than facebook.

    I love facebook for myself personally. I've been on since '09. It has been a great way to reunite with my grammar school and high school friends and to keep in touch. We know plan outings and are having fun when before FB we'd lost touch for years. I am also back in touch with the "kids" from my neighborhood and we are having fun meeting up! I have also made contact with my cousins family and am getting to know them! So I am loving the positive sides of FB.

    I know there are downsides and I am constantly discussing those with my teenagers! My rule is do NOT put any thing in writing that you would not say to someone's face! They are my friends not because they have to be and I have made them take things off their wall I consider inappropriate.

    Thanks for sharing!
    hugs and peace

  12. Regina, I travel all the time and read your blogs every day. Thank you for sharing - I recall those huge cell phones too! I am so happy to hear you were able to speak to Jeremy first. Keep writing, I many others. You're quite a lady Regina.

  13. Regina,
    I read your blog every day and have not responded but have wanted to. I feel very compelled now.
    I am glad that you shared with us your thoughts on social media and how you were given heads up that night in the hospital with the forethought to reach out to Jeremy and others. I am part of the "others" that night and stayed very much in tune to your messages sent to my son Brian. You see, once he "saw that the accident had happened on social media", he came to me directly in hysterics. I advised him to contact you directly and thank God you responded. He used your texts to stop anything that was untrue. Twitter helped him gather most of the football team and parents in our home by 11:30pm. We held each other, prayed with each other, cried with each other, and waited for the next text to come from you to accurately inform us. You see, these football players were also Chris' brothers - tight just like family. I had Brian follow the social media and STOP anything that should not be stated. I appreciate you staying in contact with him via the texts every half hour. People kept coming to our house and gathering to hold each other, even past football players who live in the area.
    Then you called Brian. I was holding him at 2:30 am as you let him know that Chris had passed and God had taken him to heaven. Brian very calmly went in with me to tell the boys. We all held hands in a circle and prayed and then just held each other for hours and cried. I stayed up with them all night and tried to help them anyway that I could. That was the night I truly became very close with the team. If it had not been for you communicating with Brian in the manner in which you did, this group would not have so calmly gathered and had the opportunity to feel each other's pain and grieve together in what was the longest and saddest night ever, one that none of us will every forget.
    We gathered for the next 3 days. Football parents started bringing food and came to make breakfast so the kids would eat. I did not go to work for a week to be where I needed to be. In those immediate days following the accident, I found myself sitting in the middle of all these kids, reading their tweets and viewing pictures and listening to music that was very consoling to them. The social media (and ALL the pictures), helped them through. I was amazed that it only took 1 hour for Brian and a couple of the players to plug their phones into the machine at CVS and print out hundreds of pictures and them put them on poster boards for the services. This would have never happened with past technology. The stories that I heard brought both laughter and tears. There is good in social media where people want to make it good.
    I had many of my friends reach out to me throughout the week to "help me" get through it so I could "help the kids". My good friend Judy brought me a plaque that said "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." How very true that is because that is what I learned firsthand.
    I use your messages daily to help people. You give me strength. You help me give my children strength.
    Thank you,
    Debbie Shellenback

    1. Dear Debbie,

      Now this is a perfect example of the positive use of social media at its most benificial. I am so sorry that the boys and you and everyone had to go through this, I am sure if anything came out of this,the brotherhood that Shen football team had is even stronger since of the accident.

      I know the boys love you so much for all the support you gave them. And your son Brian is very blessed to have you as his mom.

      Regina truly is an inspiration, I know I try to be a better person because of her blog, but don't underestimate your strength either. You and the Shen football moms are the glue that helped keep your boys from falling apart.

      I was on the field the night of the candle vigil to see Dan Diamboise the girls softball coach, (I used coach with him when I taught at Shen 14yrs ago) He came over to hug me, and I lost it, I saw your great big football boys crumble to the field and openly wail at the loss of their friend. I know the daunting task you had to hold them together.

      You are an awesome mom, I am sorry that you had to have that get together at your home, but I am happy the boys had a loving place to gather.

      God Bless, XO Annie

    2. Annie,
      I appreciate your response. It gives me strength just reading it. Thanks for sharing your story of being on the field the night of the candlelight vigil. We sat in our reserved season seats with all the usual familiar families on a normal Friday football evening - except there was one change - Regina was not sitting behind me. She had a different seat that night. My heart was full of pain and anxiety. Our 15 yr old daughter Mary sat in between my husband and me and wept as she heard Chris' favorite playlist over the speaker system. Our 17 yr old daughter Emily stayed close with friends in the student section. Chris was like a brother to our kids and a son to my husband Rich and me. He was in our house almost everyday of the week.

      I struggled as I watched Brian and his teammates being interviewed by all the news stations, wondering how they could hold up so strongly on the outside when I knew down deep how much they were falling apart on the inside. They were such young men and only 17 years old facing something that wasn't supposed to happen to them. I was amazed at the quiet orchestration that occurred throughout the entire stadium as communities and teams gathered on the field and in the stands. The colors of teams throughout the region were beautiful. I lost it as I watched the football players take the folding chair with Chris' jersey and helmet and set it in the center of the "S", placing it perfectly so their captain would face them. The embraces were warm and sincere. Matt being lifted out of the ambulance was an amazing surprise. Dr. Robinson leading the families onto the field was an utmost show of respect. The words of all the speakers were beautiful and touching. I wept through it all until the end of one speech - my son's.

      Brian had not physically slept since the accident except for one hour prior to reporting to the field. I knew that morning that he had been asked to speak at the vigil but had no idea what he was going to say. Being a mom, I worried that he might not be able to hold it together to deliver the speech that no 17 yr old would ever believe that they would have to deliver. He refused to write anything down and I feared him winging it. I made him sleep an hour before reporting to the field because of sheer exhaustion and then wasn't sure he would be able to wake up. I took dictation of his bullet points as I tried to get something down on paper for him to refer to. He was very precise about his points and said he knew what he wanted to say. He agreed with my suggestion to add the scripture at the conclusion, words from Jeremiah that my oldest sister had emailed to me earlier. I quickly typed the bullets in bold and folded the papers to put in his pocket. He was shivering and had not chosen the right clothes to wear under his football jersey on that cold December evening. He took my suggestion to change and welcomed the Shen hoodie that was now an early Christmas present. He left the house with confidence. I prayed for him. I had heard there might be upwards of 5 maybe 7 perhaps 10,000 attending and a bigger television viewing audience. Now you may understand my true anxiety. It was lifted though when he stepped up to the mike, unfolded his paper, and said "step back, take a deep breath, and smile"..."because that is what Chris would want you to do"...

      Later, I asked him how he was able to stay composed and calm and he simply stated, "Chris was standing beside me the whole time". And then we laughed together when I asked him why Chris' balloon wouldn't go up..."he didn't want to leave the field, Mom."

      God Bless you Annie,

    3. I know I'm commenting back late, but this brought me to absolute tears. Being a part of the Burnt Hills Rowing Team, I attended this vigil and wept for the pain you all have endured. I still weep for it.

      You, your family, Brian, SHEN Football... every one of you is amazing and so strong.

      God Bless YOU, Mrs. Shellenback.

    4. Hannah,
      No comment is ever too late except when you never make one. Thank you for responding. It was just like yesterday that we were part of that vigil and all endured that pain together, whether in the stadium, through television viewing, or watching the video of it at a later time. I still weep also but a little differently. I think I weep shaking my head in the disbelief that it did happen and it is real and we do have to go on. I am a realist like Brian. I know it happened. I know we have to get through it. But it does not make it easier. It does not go away. It will never go away. It will perhaps ease up a little. Brian was in shock then and I believe that is how he got through it. He is not the happy person he use to be even though he goes through the day "smiling on the outside". Many told me that of everyone, he would probably face depression the hardest. It is happening and we work everyday to help him out of it. He is the same shell on the outside but a different person on the inside. One may say that what he went through will define his character for the rest of his life. He is trying to figure out what that really is, being only 17 yrs old. He just wants it to go away but knows it won't. He wants his days to be normal and they aren't. He wants to go sit in Chris' truck in the morning before school and chill out to music and share a coffee. He wants to walk beside him into school and share 4 classes plus lunch. He wants to sit and do homework in school during study period so they can chill at our house after school. He wants to make sure we have chicken patties in the freezer so Chris can eat his faves. Our family wants to hear the door open and the familiar "hi Mr. Shellenback, hi Mrs. Shellenback, hi Emily, hi Mary, hi Puppy" and then sit down in his favorite chair in our living room and chat for 10 minutes before going to his and Brian's hangout in the basement. We all miss him but his spirit lives on happily in our home and that's how we get through it.
      Mrs. Shellenback

  14. Social media is part of our daily living. My kids will only know a time when texting, facetime and email are the primary sources for contacting a person. How crazy is that? My 5 year old can navigate my iphone and ipad and laptop better than I can! and why do I need every gadget out there? and I use each one on a daily basis!

    funny story (or maybe not)....wednesday nights I meet a group of friends to play trivia. We aren't suppose to use our phones, the game is only a couple of hours...and we can't even make it that long before someone is reaching for the phone. checking text messages, missed calls, showing one another photos, checking facebook. We are a pathetic bunch. lol.