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Social Media and Hard News

I was reading through the headlines online and ran across a story of a family who learned about their child's death through facebook, you can find the full story here. In my experiences working as an chaplain I have had this happen to me more than once. I try to respond in a timely manner but unless I was the superhero Flash, I can't beat the speed of the internet and social media.

I dont think this trend is from people who don't care or are looking to cause pain to others. I think it is with the massive amount of information people consume every day they just believe that it is best to get it out there. It becomes another piece of information instead af very powerful piece of information. The impact of the information is diluted by everything around them. The fact that this information will destroy someone's reality and cause a person pain, it  instead becomes part of the many storylines they have going through their heads. The feeling that everyone has a right to know as soon as possible over powers the need for certain people to learn of the information first and decide what they want to share of their story.

Why I bring this up is that I wonder what effect this has on our practice as emergency services chaplains? We have taught our chaplains that the one of the most traumatic things in having a loved one die is receiving the information about it. We work hard on understanding grief, practice how to say things clearly and in a way so people can understand them with out offering more trauma from our actions.

So as we walk in this world where information moves faster than we do, we need to be aware of this is happening. It can be frustrating as we would like to be able to help during the initial process of sharing that information. If we get caught up there we will quickly become obsolete as landlines are becoming. When we walk into the situation we need to be aware tht they could have heard a lot of things, like a game of telephone and at this point our job becomes not sharing the information but helping them untangle the information in a way that they can understand, process and take next steps.

 Thoughts or suggestions always welcome,

John LeMay

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