Tag Archives: social media

A Day of Remembering

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One of my friends posted an interesting comment on Facebook yesterday concerning Memorial Day. To paraphrase what he said, he didn’t remember this day having as much significance when he was growing up as it seems to have today. He wondered if social media has given this important holiday more of a voice than what it used to have. He goes on to state that, if this is the case, it is one very good thing in a sea of bad things that social media has brought into focus. Reflecting on my childhood, I have to agree with him. I can recall highlights of a local parade being shown on the nightly news and I vaguely remember seeing ceremonies at places such as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier but I also don’t remember the patriotism expressed as it is now through a variety of media. I looked on my Facebook page, admittedly not a social media platform that I use a lot (I only have 87 friends and I think that’s too many), and I counted the number of tributes posted to our soldiers and troops since midnight last night. Removing the advertisements, out of the 29 posts from my friends, 9 of these were Memorial Day related. That’s 31% of the posts that I received. Not a bad percentage. Were this many people talking about Memorial Day as a day of remembrance 20 years ago or was it known more as the long holiday weekend to kick of the summer and have a barbecue? My memories trend towards the latter.

Now, our family was not a hard core military family but we did have people that served our country. My dad was in the Army (as was my father-in-law). My grandfather was a Navy man. My cousin also served some time in the Navy and one of my cousins is now actively enrolled in the Air Force. Nobody was a “military brat” but we all knew someone who served or who was enlisted. But, as a kid, Memorial Day held significance because it was the day that the summer pools usually opened and we went to my grandparents for a picnic. As a society, events such as 9/11 and the two recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have rekindled our feelings of patriotism but today is proof that when united behind a cause, social media is very effective and an important barometer as to what is going on in our world today.

For Cam’s story, social media has been the driving force in education and awareness. We understand that the use of technology and the resulting communication avenues that are created are unprecedented. As we wind down Celiac Awareness Month, look at all the things that have come from our social media interactions.

  • We just sent in our final forms for Cam’s gluten-free week at Camp Kanata; an opportunity provided to us through a Facebook contest.
  • Our magical night at the Final Four with unspeakable compassion from a complete stranger who was sympathetic to our cause above 78,000 other customers. This story was shared by numerous strangers on Facebook.
  • The story of Cam’s journey is being read worldwide. Think about that. Growing up, I had a pen pal in France that I spoke with for a summer. Yesterday, my son’s fight for Celiac Awareness was viewed in places such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Bolivia.
  • A relationship with a fellow Celiac, who happens to be a professional race car driver, all because of a simple Twitter post.
  • Cam being featured in a gluten free calendar. Yep, he’s officially a pin-up at 13.
  • Over 500 followers of his story on Twitter in less than 5 months.

These statistics do not include all of the wonderful people that we have met these first nine months in our Celiac journey. For Cam to see firsthand the generosity and good that exists in people has been one of the best lessons to come out of all of this. Yes, terrible things can come from social media and if you take the time to look at comment boards or any application where someone is provided a voice, you can see/read that ignorance is still alive and stronger than ever. But used in the right way, such as with this Memorial Day holiday, what we have access to today can work wonders.

God bless to all of our troops; current, past and future. Know that we appreciate what you do, not just today, but every day.

 

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The Social Food Network

I want you to do an experiment the next time that you are in a restaurant. At some point during your meal, stop and take a look at the other patrons around you. How many of them are eating alone? Probably not many. Now, for the ones who are there with friends, families, business consultants, etc., how many of them are looking at their mobile device and not at the person who is sitting directly across from them? I bet the number is much higher than those patrons who are there and eating by themselves. Chances are many of you had to put down your own mobile device to perform this experiment. If that is the case, make sure to count yourself too.

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I’m as guilty as the next guy. My device gives me a notification buzz every time that I get an e-mail. When that happens, my instinct is to grab my phone out of my pocket and check the message, regardless of where I am and what I am doing. 9 times out of 10, it’s a useless e-mail that I either throw away or respond to later. I joke with my wife that I need to program my phone to just inform me of the “important” e-mails but, in honesty, I just need to stop. Many times, I’m sitting across the table from a beautiful woman and there I am looking at a digital screen. The 20 year old version of myself would have died for this opportunity and here the 40 year old version is taking it for granted, opting instead to read about the latest job opportunities posted in my area. The 20 year old version thinks I’m an idiot.

The art of being social has become very skewed in the past 10 years. Knowing how to speak to a person and have a congenial conversation has been replaced by knowing how to find out how the person’s day was from posts on Instagram or Facebook. Technology has been a great asset in connecting us with a far, wider range of people all throughout the world but it has diminished our ability to communicate face to face. Right now (if you’re still reading) you’re all saying to yourself, “OK, TeenDad. We’ve read it before and we get it. What’s this have to do with your kid?”. Well, it has to do with the impact that food has on all of us.

Remember growing up and going out to eat? It was (and still is) a big deal for some. My dad worked a later shift when I was growing up so it was always special when our family went out to eat and had a chance to be together. Memories of shooting straw papers at your siblings, toddlers at other tables making us laugh by asking for beer, and me falling through the front window of a restaurant (yes, this happened) have just produced smiles on the faces of three people that read this blog; my mom, dad and sister. All families have memories like these; heart-warming remembrances from holiday dinners to favorite restaurants to weekly family potlucks where everyone brought a pie. Before the smartphone, our social lives centered around food.

I want Cam to experience what we had. Sure, it will be different because of technology but these opportunities are still going to be there.  Social-eating is such an important part of being a teenager and it’s something that I don’t want him to miss out on. Gatherings at family and friends houses are important for him, a chance for him to make his own memories to smile about when he gets older. Thus, we ask questions and we continue to advocate. We want the restaurants to know who we are and to think about their standards every time we walk through their doors. We want to continue to show newly diagnosed people that there are good recipes out there and provide them with homemade food that blows their mind and shatters the misconception that all gluten-free food tastes terrible. We want our family and friends to learn more during this Celiac Awareness Month and to not be afraid to invite us to their homes because of Cam’s condition. He’s a smart kid who knows his own parameters of safety. So, let’s again use food to be social. Learn about his condition. Ask him questions.  He’ll be happy to answer them over a meal if you want, as long as you put down the phone.