May 22nd, 2013
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Stories are constantly written about why we should strive to unplug from our computers, ipads, Smartphones and other electronic devices but I read a work colleague’s Facebook post yesterday and was reminded of how amazing social media truly is.
I work with a young guy named Aaron Knights and he was at the incredibly tender age of seven when his beloved father died from cancer at the age of 38.  Think about that for a minute.  Think about what you were like when you were seven.  The idea of losing a parent at that stage of your life is profound and pretty scary, right?
They say that when you have a child you sometimes end up reliving moments of your own childhood in the process of raising your own child.  Now, Aaron’s daughter is seven years old and Aaron said she is asking Aaron a lot of questions about his Dad and she wants to know things like: What was he like? Was he funny? What would you two do together?
Aaron added that recently he was putting his daughter to bed and they were talking about what happened at school when spontaneously, in only the way a seven-year-old could, his daughter directly said to him, “I wish your Daddy didn’t get sick and die.  I wish there was no sickness in the world. . .ever!”

Aaron said he tries to be as honest with his daughter as he can (I would be crying) but he only has so many stories that he remembers of his wonderful Dad because he was so young when his Dad died.  He wanted more stories for himself and for his daughter and he posted on Facebook a simple query about how he misses his Dad every day and asked people who might have known his Dad to share their memories with him and his daughter.

Social media does offer vast human connections which can be impersonal but are also immediate.  At last count, Aaron received more than 75 responses to his question about his Dad which to me is amazing!
Without Facebook, Aaron would have had to sit down and write emails or letters or made telephone calls and then waited for something to arrive in the mail or someone to call back.Talking about a loved one who has died is good for everyone who knew the person because the conversations and the sharing of memories continues to connect you to that person you lost.  You are also passing along or even trying to recreate that person so that others who never had a chance to get to know the person feel in some way that they too do know this loved one who meant so much.My son and I always talk about his Dad, some of the weird things he would do or say and also some of the wonderful and treasured things he achieved as a writer and a reporter.  I talk to my friends about him too and they sahre their stories with me.  It just makes us feel better and we never tire of it.  He may not be with us physically but he will never leave our hearts.

Aaron did an extraordinary thing by posting his request for stories about his Dad on Facebook.  He was opening himself up to stories he might never have heard before and even though he wanted those stories, he knew it would be painful to hear them because it would make him miss his Dad even more.  But he chose to get a dialogue going and help his daughter understand what her grandfather was like.

Sometimes you should plug in!

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