Tears for a Twitter Friend

DUNGENESS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: A lighthouse is pictured above the shingle on August 25, 2010 in Dungeness, England. The Dungeness National Nature Reserve is a desolate landscape of wooden houses, a nuclear power station, lighthouses, and is one of the largest areas of vegetated shingle in the world. The reserve possesses a rich and diverse range of wildlife, including many migratory birds, an array of uncommon insects and is home to 600 species of plants; a third of all plants found in the UK. This protected coastline is an important ecological site of international conservation importance. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The power of social media struck me full force last night in a way I could not have anticipated. After a very long day, I was taking one last look at email before going to bed. I noticed a note sent from Facebook from someone I did not know. Lately I’ve received a number of friend requests on Facebook from spammers simply marketing their affiliate links. However this was not a friend request, it was an actual note so I took the time to read it and to my shock it was informing me that Mike, one of my acquaintances on Twitter, had just died. The young lady was going through Mike’s list of Facebook friends to let them know the sad news.

After the initial shock wore off, I got on Twitter to inform a few of Mike and my mutual acquaintances. As I wrote back and forth with one of them, something surprising happened. Tears started rolling down my face.

This surprised me because I have never actually met Mike. I’ve seen him on webcam and I’ve seen still pictures of him but I honestly doubt I would have recognized him if we passed each other on the street. But when I “met” him in cyberspace about two years ago he was more than a source of electronic messages. He was authentic. He chatted with me on Twitter with no ulterior motive other than to be friends and share. At a time when I was new to the Twitterverse, Mike offered to feature my Twitter handle on his web site as a go-to guy. He asked for my professional opinion of some of his business ventures. He became very real to me. He was kind. He was a good guy. Like many friendships in “the real world”, we got busy and lost touch but the minute I saw his name in that sad note, I immediately thought back to our exchanges. The other powerful aspect to this was how using Facebook, a friend of Mike’s was able to reach out to folks she never knew existed. I have no doubt that before his Facebook account is taken down, Mike’s “wall” will be full of tributes from friends and family, an electronic memorial of sorts.

There is a simple moral to this story. If you allow yourself to be authentic in social media, you will not only enrich your business, you may very well enrich your soul.

About Matt Bovell

President and CEO of Vell Group LLC, Editor of Vell Connected.
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