So much social media community, so alone.

social media community

By Mark Schaefer

I was saddened to learn that a beloved person in my social media community, Del Williams, died of cancer this week. Del was one of my first online connections and a reliable pundit in my blog comment section, Facebook debates, and Twitter stream.

I loved to see Del show up in a conversation because she called out the guru BS and was not afraid of anything or anybody.

I think I was one of her favorites. Earlier this year she told me I was an honorary black person!

But Del was a typical social media friend. I knew her only on a superficial level.

I never met her or even called her.

I don’t know much of her “back story” beyond her LinkedIn profile.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get to know her more deeply. It was just that amid the social media cacophony, there was never a reason to collaborate specifically with her. And so we were constantly “in orbit” but never landed together in a truly personal way.

I learned of Del’s death through this Facebook post:

Del’s suffering is over. She passed peacefully this afternoon.

She was not alone when she died, thanks to the huge-hearted volunteers of No One Dies Alone. If you’d like to do something in Del’s memory, see if No One Dies Alone offers its services at a medical center or hospice near you, and support them as you’re able.

It appears that it was posted by this organization — in fact it is sort of an advertisement for the agency, isn’t it?

This is how they describe their mission:

No One Dies Alone provides bedside volunteers who offer a reassuring presence to dying patients who would otherwise be aloneNo One Dies Alone provides a dignified death to individuals who have no family or close friends to sit with them at the end of life.

I was not aware of this group but it sounds like a worthy cause.

But that social media epitaph sent a chill down my spine.

Del had 550 Facebook friends, more than 500 LinkedIn connections, and 13,000 Twitter followers. Even a famous one:

social media community

And she died alone?

Her Facebook epitaph seems to indicate no one she knew was around for her in the final hours.

Del was proud and private. I don’t know what decisions she made at the end of her life. Maybe this is exactly what she wanted.

But my hunch is … no. She probably did not choose to die alone in that cold hospital room while the social media connections she loved bubbled on without her.

I felt sad. So much community and so alone at the end.

All those connections. Connections without accountability. I suppose that is the definition of social media community?

Go hug somebody in real life today.

Love you Del. Why did I never tell you that in person?

social media community del williams

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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