How Facebook Can Be Used for Good

I have a friend who says that puppies and babies should be the only things we see on Facebook, and I tend to agree. Facebook can be a petri dish for conflict and misunderstanding. I’ve heard too many stories of friends or family members fighting over a snitty comment or a passive-aggressive unfriending. I shy away from politically provocative posts or anything that feels “planted”.  (*Cough*. Russians.) But this week, Facebook did nothing less than facilitate a miracle, or at least it brought together people from many different places to witness one.

Now this is a puppy photo worthy of Facebook. It’s on my feed. 😉

It was Saturday afternoon, and I was hot and hungry, riding home from a cross country meet and thankful that the kids on the bus were tired enough to sit with their ear buds in and their mouths closed. As I bounced along on my brown vinyl seat, scrolling through the photos of puppies and babies and the previous night’s dinners, I came across a disturbing post. My cousin was, at the very moment I read the post, being flown to a Mayo clinic for intensive treatment. Her condition was critical, and her husband was desperate.

He created a Facebook page, even though he knew my cousin would hate such a public display of her medical issues, because he needed friends and family to know what was going on, and he needed a fast and easy way to communicate with all of us. He also needed prayers. As did she. I clicked my way to the beginning of the feed and read about how my cousin had gone from slightly ill to the ICU.

Suddenly, I was even more grateful that my runners were distracted with their devices, because I didn’t want them to see their coach crying. My cousin is my age, with two beautiful children aged 10 and 13 and a wonderful husband who was trying so hard to stay faithful and strong. I could not fathom that she was so sick or that her prognosis was so bleak.

As the weekend progressed, my cousin’s husband, let’s call him “Jack”, posted regular updates. (He’s already in enough trouble with his wife for the FB page; I’m not going to compound the issue.) I don’t know if he has any experience in writing, but the words he used to share his pain and concern and, yes, even a little bit of humor, brought me and hundreds of other loving friends and family right into the ICU with him. Here is a snippet of one of his heart-rending posts:

We are crushed right now. We are crushed emotionally. We are crushed spiritually. We are numb and everything is moving in such slow motion. I write this crying what I expect are the last tears I could possibly have. But then I look at my son and he’s writhing to the left and to the right playing Temple Run on his phone and I smile.
Again – thank you to each and everyone of you. Please pray for our “Jill”. Please pray.

In his posts, Jack balanced the hard reality with humor.

I’ve also learned you have to remind a ten year old to not only shower but to put on clean clothes. Turns out he has worn the same clothes for three days. Sorry about that.

On Monday, the children who go to school with my cousin “Jill’s” kids stopped midday to pray the Rosary. I shared the “Pray for ‘Jill’” FB page with a few close friends and prayer warriors and asked them to join in.  One mother posted a picture of the children pausing during their school day to pray for my cousin.

This FB photo made me cry

And now, almost a week later, “Jack” is still posting, but thank God it’s better news. My cousin got a much needed organ transplant.  That they found a donor so quickly is truly a miracle; that she is getting better, little by little each day, is too.

My friends who I invited to pray, who have never met my cousin, continue to read Jack’s posts and share in this journey with me. I am so grateful to them for caring so much. (I also think “Jack’s” writing skill has something to do with it.)

In a public statement related to the upcoming elections in Germany, FB founder Mark Zuckerberg stated that he created Facebook to give people a voice and to bring people together. As of today, 845 people are following the “Pray for ‘Jill’” page, and we are commenting and liking and giving “Jack” the support he needs in that ICU room.

So, yes, Facebook can cause turmoil, and is probably best used for pictures of puppies and babies, but maybe it’s the place where miracles can happen too.

Thank you to “Jack” for this excellent example of using words to bring people together for something good, and thank you to my friends who follow the Pray for “Jill” feed and who have shared my concern this week.

Word Nerd Workout

Hug someone you love today (Jack’s idea) and please share other ways you’ve seen Facebook used for good.

Thanks for getting nerdy with me.

Julia Tomiak

I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.

7 Comments

  1. FB can be a wonderful vehicle for communicating and bringer people closer together in hard times. I’m adding my prayers to the many already going out to your cousin, Julia.

  2. Yes there are still good uses for FB used positively. A couple of years ago my grandfather went to visit my aunt and got lost along the way. He was missing over night. He was located several hours from home by a friend of a friend seeing a FB share and brought back home to us safely

  3. That picture! Tremendous.

    You nailed the reason Facebook can be such a wonderful thing. For me, it’s always held more positive than negative.

    I’m so sorry for your cousin and you and your extended family. I too pray that help can be found…xoxo

    1. Thank you, Amy. We are so glad she got the transplant and are hoping she continues to improve. It’s an hour by hour process. I’m not surprised FB has been positive for you- you find the good wherever you go!

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