Unnecessary Deaths

Facebook comment from Michelle Mabe Rivera Social media is changing everything about the way we live. A local tragedy caused that message to hit home once again. Christene Rivera was murdered on Saturday. She was a listener who had “friended” me on Facebook in January. She used the name Michelle Mabe Rivera online and would sometimes comment on my posts and invite me to her events at her business. I am almost positive that we met at the March for Babies this past April. Not sure what else to do, I posted a note asking other listeners to pray for the repose of her soul.

In radio’s past, most of our listeners remained anonymous to us. The only names we would know were the active contest players who seemed to win every 45 days. Because of Facebook and Twitter, it is easier than ever for us to get to know our audience. Michelle’s murder reminded me of another death that happened before the prevalence of Facebook and Twitter. Exactly four years earlier, Christina Eubanks’ body was found in a shallow creek. I recognized her face on the news as a frequent attendee at Einstein Simplified shows.

Two other tragic events are being documented online. Katie Allison Granju’s son Henry died last week. She has written about the drug addiction and beating that led to Henry’s brain injury and death. I met Katie once at a “blogfest” organized by Rich Hailey, my friend and “blogfather.” Just before Henry died, Rich’s son Luke was badly injured in an automobile accident. He has written several powerful pieces about the overlap between the boys’ hospitalizations and about his feelings as a parent.

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6 Responses to Unnecessary Deaths

  1. Ken Mueller says:

    Great observations, Frank. The rise and prevalence of social media has blurred the lines of our private and public/work lives. And I’m pretty sure that’s not a bad thing. We are able to build and maintain relationships with so many more people. I know that is the case in my life.

    Additionally, many of these tragic losses are played out online. I know that personally I have grieved with friends via Twitter and Facebook as they experience loss in their lives. Though the other side is true as well: I’ve recently been able to “witness” the birth of 3 babies via Twitter and celebrate with the happy parents.

    This is why I always tell people about my social media world, and that I live in an “amazing community” http://inklingmedia.net/2010/02/i-live-in-an-amazing-community/

    Social Media shrinks the world as much of our lives are played out online. With my background in radio, I remember the days of the anonymous listeners…with the exception of the “regulars” who called us daily, and we got to know them well. But now we have the ability to go beyond that.

    Thanks for this post that recognizes the presence that social media has become in our lives, and how it personalizes previously anonymous relationships.

  2. I will definitely pray for her soul, very tragic to hear.

    We no longer live in the Information Age, we are now living in the Early Stages of the Interface Age. Information is coming at us faster and faster and at a wider spectrum how do we receive it and process it efficiently so that we can make sense out of it. Figuring out the most efficient way than an individual can receive, process and make a decision, is very difficult, because we are all at different speeds/abilities and what works for some is the totally wrong way for others.

    Exposure, like with most things, decreases but usually doesn’t eliminate the stress, anxiety and sensitivity to everything coming at once. As you say you get to know your audience is getting easier, and likewise, it’s makes the audience get to know the media persona easier too. Instead of a monophonic personality, we the audience get to experience more interactions than just the few hours every day. Or in the case of a newspaper writer, more story lines than just what was assigned.

    It’s my opinion that while social networking is a tool to radiate news at a faster and wider scale, some of the old traditions of Old School Media still linger. The Evening News ran 30 minutes and after 25 minutes of Death and Problems and Issues, there was the “Feel Good Story” at the very end. However, although there is still the Doom and Gloom, social networking, blogs both Macro and Micro, makes created a more complete picture of events/happening faster than having to wait for Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story”. Now we can get instantaneous different views of the same event from different people and different angles or exposure to unknown feelings (such as your reference to Mr. Hailey).

  3. Jere says:

    May the Lord bless all who mourn the loss of a child. It is the hardest thing for me to imagine having to face and I pray that Rich’s son, Luke, pulls through and that he will make a full recovery.

  4. Michele was a good friend. Social media was how we met and how we became friends. She was a great woman, and a wonderful friend to everyone she met.

    Social media definitely has changed the entire cycle of communication in this life. We no longer have to wait for someone to pick up the phone. We no longer have to remember what we were calling for. We don’t have to pay mass amounts to get a small message out.

    There are upsides and downsides though. Before, if you were angry at someone, and they didn’t answer the phone or the door, you had time to think about it and calm down. Now, you can just fire off an email, text, or tweet, and let all that negative emotion out with no time to process. It’s quite frightening. Rumors can be spread at lightning speed. Reputations can be ruined overnight.

    However, you can meet that special new friend, or a long, lost family member. There’s so much excitement involved as well. I’m glad Michelle reached out to you. You are blessed to have witnessed her kindness while it was here on Earth. Have a good one sir.

  5. Pattie says:

    I wrote a couple of blog posts about young men, best friends since childhood, who passed away. Over the years, I’ve corresponded with some of their relatives and friends. Social media really does help to humanize stories like this in a way we couldn’t before.

    I was saddened to read about Ms. Rivera’s death and sorry you lost a friend. I wrote about how Katie’s son’s death affected me, and I left wishes for Luke’s recovery on Rich’s blog (which is now at http://www.stabilityforourtimes.com).

    Here’s hoping our community sees its share of happy news stories to balance out all the sad of late.

  6. Pingback: A Blog Memory Album of Henry

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