Friday, October 31, 2008

Tech Support of a Different Kind

These days, we're often too busy to nurture relationships. Sometimes we don't even get to know our our own neighbors very well. The isolation and relative anonymity of the internet sometimes exacerbates this problem - but not always.

My friend, Mike, tells me today that his brother-in-law's house in Gig Harbor burned down earlier in the week - the kind of event that is always tragic and hugely impacts a family. Someone has already been kind enough to have posted a website with information and photos about the fire - started by a raccoon, most likely.

Best of all, the site also makes it easy for people to contribute to a fund supporting the family and it also lists various other kinds of contributions that would be helpful for them. Something like this makes it so much easier for friends and neighbors to support one another in times of need and I'm always impressed by the ingenuity and compassion involved.

More than once, I have seen friends and family support one another through grave illness via the CaringBridge website. Caring Bridge has been descibed as "social networking for sick people", providing "connection, love, and support when you need it most" by making it easy to post updates and photos to people who want to stay in the loop, with minimal impact on those immediately involved. Guest book entries where people can express their love and support work even better than filling up answering machines and keeping people notified of news is hugely helpful, whether it's a premature baby waiting to come home from the hospital or a loved one battling some disease process.

Network for Good helps us find charitable organizations looking for contributions - and makes it easy to give to them. I love using this site to handle all of my year-end donations all at once. They also make it easy to match volunteers and organizations needing help.

Sometimes the internet helps bring us together. Let's celebrate that capability and help it help us to be better humans.

Do you know of sites that help us help each other? Please do share. It's the time of year when it's that much more important to be thinking of how we can help one another in an economic climate that demands we do whatever we can. However badly we may each be hurting, someone else is hurting more. Even if it's just to reach out a hand or a thought, it's something that can make a difference.

How can you improve your connections with other people?