-April 12, 2011-
How to Support the "Bravest Families in America"
Last January Oprah hosted First Lady Michelle Obama, Tom Brokaw, and Bob Woodward on her show to introduce the public to "The Bravest Families in America" - our military families (http://www.oprah.com/showinfo/The-Bravest-Families-in-America). Today Arianna Huffington announced Military Family Week at the Huffington Post to include a series of special sections and articles honoring military families and suggesting ways to assist them (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/military-families-week-pu_b_847873.html). The focus of these two initiatives, and a similar White House "Joining Forces" initiative announced Sunday and led by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is to better inform the public of the sacrifices our volunteer military personnel and families are quietly making every day on our behalf and to help us understand how we can get involved and take action to support these families.
An important theme that comes up in reading many of the articles on this subject is how even when we know of a military family who is struggling (sometimes even good friends), it is still hard to know how to offer support. It is also often hard for many of these families to ask for help from friends and family. After all, self-sufficiency is one of the personal characteristics our military (and our culture in general) often rewards. I know from personal experience that when I ask if there is something I can do (and it often seems harder just to ask than it should), I often find the familiar, "oh, we'll be OK" response as a relief. I know this reply isn't always the whole truth however, and I would like to suggest that there may be a better way to take action on behalf of those we care about than simply accepting the awkwardness of these moments and possible feelings of guilt later.
It should be no surprise to those who know my partner and me at LifeEventNet.com that we believe there is an important role for social media in fostering collaborative action for the benefit of others. In solidarity with the efforts of Oprah, Michelle, Tom, Bob, and Arianna, and many others, we’d like you to consider inviting trusted friends and family of a military family to join you online on a private webpage set up to make asking for support and receiving support easier. Whether next door or across the planet, all invited participants can lend a hand and help create a community of caring and tangible action. Be thoughtful, considerate, and follow through. Consider free, family friendly websites, like www.LifeEventNet.com, where non-skilled web users can participate in making a difference for our military families. Whether volunteer military or not, we're in this together.
-August 20, 2010-
It occurred to me while talking with a friend recently that a "website" was a pretty vague concept for most people, even those who use a browser to access websites every day. It's a little like going to a grocery store and filling up a basket, yet never really thinking about how the building and all the products get there and how the store is organized and managed. Probably for most people these things really aren't interesting to them as long as things continue to work as expected - just "too much information" at a time when our attention is already stretched pretty thin.
OK; but what does this mean for LifeEventNet.com? If most people don't really think about websites other than to use them for what they need, then why would they want to create their own webpages? Probably the best place to look for an answer is with the most frequented website on the web - Facebook. Why do so many people want to create their own webpages on Facebook? It seems that the idea of creating a personal webpage makes sense when you want other people to find YOU and you want to find OTHERS and you want to commune with them online. Instead of a grocery store, it's more like a flea market where shoppers often bring their own stuff. So, using this analogy, LifeEventNet.com is like a very personal flea market where only those people you want to be there can come.
Would it be as interesting to people to create private webpages on the web instead of on Facebook? What if it was even easier, provided more interactive tools than Facebook or a blog, and people did it whenever they wanted to form a private group around a topic, action, life event, or for whatever reason? Have an idea for a party; then set up a webpage and invite a bunch of friends to plan it with you. Want to help a sick friend; then set up a webpage with things that need to be done and invite a bunch of friends to volunteer for something. What's the big deal about webpages anyway? What does someone really need to know about how they work if they can quickly use them for what they need. This is what we had in mind when we created LifeEventNet.com.
-August 5, 2010-
-July 28, 2010-
I like the notion that caregiving can be a spiritual experience that both strengthens the bonds of love and friendship with another person, while finding true meaning in life for the giver and those who choose to support the process. However, a strong aspect of American identity is as the "rugged individualist" and collaboration for the benefit of others is a challenging concept for many or at least one that confronts personal priorities. The perception that a competent individual should not have to ask for help contributes to situations where offers of caregiving help are dismissed and caregivers often feel alone in their efforts. The fact is that there are few generally understood traditions (like table manners) that guide us in providing assistance or asking for it. The result is that we struggle to both find ways to help and get help when life confronts us with an event that just can't be dealt with alone.
So, I'd like to propose that with a little help from Internet technology we can begin to establish new traditions and methods for both asking for help and offering it. Furthermore, online tools offer the advantages that people don't have to be neighbors to help and can easily coordinate activities with an extended, yet private community of close and trusted friends and relatives to do what is needed, when it is needed. The experience of helping others is an opportunity to enrich our lives and those of all the people we reach out to.