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The Flip Side of Social Media

Recently in Meghan’s post we were reminded of how careful one needs to be when using social media and well basically I think we all know…don’t use it for inappropriate relationships like certain people have! But I thought I would stay on the topic of social media for a bit longer and touch on the (positive) impacts it can have when used correctly.

Lauren Spierer, a 20 year old Indiana University (IU) junior. She is 4’11 and about 90 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes – missing since the early morning of June 3, 2011.

How did I find out about this tragic story? Via social media, more specifically Twitter. No doubt have there been a fair share of negative incidents circulating around social media, but we can’t forget that there have also been some pretty amazing things happen with the help of those same platforms.

My first example, the case of Lauren from IU in Bloomington, IN. Never before have I heard about something so horrific, but inspiring at the same time. As I mentioned, I do not know her at all and learned about her disappearance through Twitter, as did pretty much the rest of the world, including all the major news sites and even the untouchable world of celebrities.

Two days after Lauren was reported missing, a girl who still remains anonymous to this day, created a Twitter handle to help find Lauren by making the millions of people in this world aware of the situation. In less than two weeks, she had spread the word like rapid fire and to this day (now about 2.5 weeks since disappearance) has 24,333 followers who are all still working to get the word out about Lauren.

This anonymous Tweeter does not know Lauren and has never met her, but felt that it was her duty to help in any way that she could. She currently holds a marketing position and felt that the best way she could contribute was to take the news to social media and as we can all see, it has definitely paid off. Since she started the Twitter handle @NewsOnLaurenS, hundreds of news stations have covered the story and she even got celebrities like Tom Cruise, Andy Cohen from Bravo, the Kardashians, author Nicholas Sparks and more to tweet about the Spierer family’s horrific situation.

Even though the search for Lauren still continues almost three weeks later, with the help of Twitter and other social media sites, the search still continues and will not end until Lauren is found. Through the power of social media, the world was given and gladly accepted the challenge of standing behind the Spierer family and provides them with the necessary hope and strength to fight until the end.

The second example is about a 15 year old girl named Alice. You may have heard about her also if you are an avid Twitter user. Alice is from Ulverston, Cumbria in the UK and has been battling cancer for four years now. She has accepted the fact that this disease could very well take her life, but she is remaining positive and created a bucket list of things she would like to do. She reports on her list frequently on her blog and recently it came to the world’s attention that one of Alice’s must do things is trend on Twitter.

About two weeks ago, someone took to Twitter (possibly Alice herself not really sure) and began to spread the word of Alice’s wish. In less than a week’s time the hashtag #alicebucketlist was appearing everywhere on Twitter and it still in today. Also, just days after the hashtag appeared, #alicebucketlist was a top trending Twitter topic and she was able to check off one more item on her bucket list.

These efforts have helped instill hope in back into humanity…at least in my opinion and are a testament to the true power social media has. It is now up to us to decide whether that power is used for good or evil and I don’t know about you guys, but I hope I start seeing more inspiring stories like those of Alice and Lauren.

Be sure to check out the blog about Lauren and Alice’s too. I have hyperlinked them in the story, but just in case here are the links to their blogs.

Alice's Bucket List

Find Lauren

And be sure to follow @Alice_Pyne and @NewsOnLaurenS on Twitter.

Until next time.