AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

Have a Banana Split for Dinner

Posted by jorogrady on July 14, 2012

If you’re like me, you get Facebook invites to a lot of events you’ll never attend.  However, a recent event posting on Facebook made headlines worldwide, and inspired many parents to sit their children down one night and serve them ice cream with all the toppings…in place of dinner.

As the Facebook event explained, 21-month-old Ryan Roberts was dying of a congenital heart defect and his parents wanted parents around the world to honor Ryan and bring a smile to their children’s faces by serving a banana split for dinner.  I won’t go into the details of the event or Ryan’s condition too much, but the remarkable thing is that over 75,000 people responded to the event invite and posted pictures of their children enjoying a banana split.  Thousands of people friended Ryan’s mother and received updates on Ryan’s condition (Ryan passed away just a few days ago.)

This event reminded me of the example given in Groundswell of the Howley family and the updates on their twins that they sent out to concerned family and friends.  However, I think that the difference between what the Howleys experienced through their form of social media and what Ryan’s mother experienced is that Ryan’s mother’s Facebook was accessible to anyone who was interested, whereas the Howleys CarePage was accessible only to those people invited to access it by the Howleys.  In following Diane Roberts’ Facebook posts (a Facebook friend of mine friended Diane, so her posts showed up in my own mini-feed), I was able to see that not only did Diane receive hundreds and hundreds of posts from well-wishers, she also received hurtful posts and messages from people who objected to her Do Not Resuscitate decision for her suffering child, or to her post about getting her hair done.

Opening yourself up to the mercy of the public can have positive and negative consequences.  Ryan Roberts’ story went viral, and the Roberts family received media attention and prayers from all around the world.  But they also received negative responses to their family’s personal decisions, because they had opened themselves up to feedback of all types.

What do you think?  Given the choice, would you choose to be public about a personal issue, or keep it “within the family”, the way the Howleys did?


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