Friday, September 27, 2013

Could Google Glass Impact Chicago's Gang Violence?

If you follow Chicago news at all, you know that we are making headlines across the nation for an unfortunate crime wave, resulting in weekly-if not daily-stories about record-breaking shootings. A rather high percentage of these victims appear to have some sort of tie to gang violence in the city, but all agree on one thing; it needs to stop.

One person who appears to want to stop this violence is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who recently agreed to a conversation about possibly sending Illinois State Police to act as reinforcements to the most troubled areas. Adding armed military personnel has also been positioned as a potential answer. But maybe it's not military action but social strategy that could be used to combat this disease. Commander Kevin Ryan, head of the Chicago Police Department's Gang Enforcement Division, was recently quoted in an ABC News story on Chicago's gang violence and the use of social media. In the article, Ryan said social media "amplifies" conflicts between rival gangs, but is not the root cause of conflicts between them. "I don't think it's going from Facebook to the streets. It's going from the streets to Facebook," he said. "It's not something social media has created, it's an amplification method."
 
This is a pretty key statement. Without amplification, even the most intense human emotion subsides naturally over time. With Facebook and Twitter to constantly and continually feed the fires, these emotions can get out of control. Fast.

 (source: Wired.com)
 
 
Just take a look at the latest victim that was shot in the face on September 19, 2013. I won't post a photo image of the 3-year old all bandaged up, but you get the picture. I did --- in my Facebook feed. I follow a local news channel and they posted the image. It broke my heart. It made me cry. It's no wonder gang violence is spiraling out of control. I can't even imagine the emotions people nearer this sad situation must feel.

So this is a plea to Google's Larry Page, Sergey Brin and maybe even Isabelle Olsson (lead designer) to not look the other way. If humanity depends on social behavior and I believe it does (and so do the gangs using FB, Twitter, Instagram to track rival gang members as clearly illustrated in a recent Wired.com article that will leave you sick) and I believe Google would agree, then maybe Google Glass can help the Chicago gang violence crisis.

Arm them with power which knowledge gives.
Maybe arming the police, community activists or others with Google Glass could help curb the behavior long term and more imporantly in the short term, could potentially impact specific high risk areas immediately. James Madison said, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
Technology has a way of evolving much faster than legislation can dictate. While we wait for military response, more governmental funds and protective programming or other solutions that stop our babies from being shot in the face, technology is being used in the war on crime. Why not figure out a way to make that technology contribute in a more positive manner?

Whether you think Uncle Ben (from Spiderman) or Voltaire said it, who can disagree that, "With great power comes great responsibility."

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Karrie Brown has passion for (fashion) people.

I really do not care that Kendy Kartrashian lightened her hair. I know it's a Monday, but still.

Speaking of people, I do think that Wet Seal has done some good work with this latest marketing campaign. And I would say that even if I didn't personally know adore the CEO of the company. Thanks to Facebook (say what you will about the old FB, but I am a fan of that too) yet another branded story is moving above the fold and to the front of the news portal for something other than XXX videos and bad press (there is no such thing as bad press, but I digress...)


In a time of Abercrombie making the news for making fun of everyone and the masses mistaking Syria for Miley Cyrus, it's nice to come back down to earth for a bit. It's nice to see big brands behaving like they want to win your loyalty and not crapping on you for having any in the first place. It's not always about being tricked into buying something (take note email marketers of insidiously broken loyalty programs) sometimes it about the passion of the people.

Karrie Brown has passion. Facebook was just lucky enough to be part of her story.

Here is the delightful story on NBC News.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pinterest and other Stupid People News

What does Rakuten, Etsy, JcPenney, Barney's New York, The Fancy and Pinterest have in common?

Well, for starters, they all believe in the art of inspiration.

Rakuten, described in a recent Forbes article as the biggest eCommerce site in the world, has also been called the "Amazon of Japan" since it purchased Buy.com in the U.S.s and other similar eCommerce platforms in Germany, Brazil, France, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan; building what appears be an impressive global domination. Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of the Japanese e-commerce site Rakuten, is the man responsible for this quiet giant.

Along with acquiring Buy.com in the U.S., Rakuten has bought out e-commerce sites in Germany, Brazil, France, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Rakuten also made a multi-million dollar investment in Pinterest last year. It appears that Mikitani cares more about the user experience than he does about flipping a shopper over to the online basket as effecient as possible...which is an interesting path that Pinterest is about travel.


In a recent Business of Fashion article, The Fancy reportedly raised more funding from the owner of Barney's New York, whose son also happens to work at The Fancy. But even more interesting than that is that while billionaire retail investor and owner of Barney's, Richard Perry is throwing more money at the inspiration-inspired side of eCommerce, he also raised his stake in ailing retail giant JcPenney. Makes ya think.

It's all something to watch, for sure, as Pinterest puts together a plan to add more ads and Jcp and Barney's looks for a way to stay inspirational and young in the face of the unknown for retailers and shoppers alike.  It should also be noted that some of the same investors (Andreesson Horowitz, namely) for The Fancy also invested in the last round of investments for Pinterest; so it appears that even the investment community believes in the art of inpiration to some point.

In other news, Etsy just launched a collaboration with brands on it's local handmade goods site to offer curated social shopping pages. In an article that appeared on sproutsocial.com, the author admits that the new pages look an awful lot like Pinterest pages. Not that we haven't seen Pinterest-like platforms or pages in the past. It seems that EVERYONE wants to inspire and that's a good thing, right? Read an article in Pinit.com that helps explain the scene a little more and why pinning is the next wave of social media...and it's over a year old. Still good.

And now the best for last. A letter from Ben. Ben of Pinterest. (I like Ben. I wrote about how he looked like hell. I also wrote about his passion when I wrote about the need to never cease to wonder. so, yeah, I'm a big fan.) So you can imagine how surprised and delighted I was to get an email from him, telling me that Pinterest was about to launch something called a Promoted Pin; advertising on Pinterest. Of course, there has been much ado about nothing from this news, but only time will tell. Will Pinterest push out the best of advertising in a way that doesn't deteriorate it's inspirational value or will the onboarding of less-than-interesting brand advertising cloaked as pins prove to be as inoculous as Gmail ads?

I've said that people are stupid before (back in 2010, but I didn't really mean it), but what I really meant was the opposite. People get it. More than advertisers and platform developers and even investors want to believe. We get it. But sometimes, when conditions are just right, we will buy it. More than ads and new talk from new dads, that's what is being hedged.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Weekend of Photobombs & Twerking

I watched it happen. Erin Andrews tried to show off her tan lines while America was mesmerized with the two jackals that stood behind her during FOX's post-game NFL show this weekend. It was almost as cute as Eminem's interview on ESPN with Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger during the Notre Dame-Michigan game. When I say cute, I mean odd and sort of creepy in a "man-he-smoked-way-too-much-weed" sort of way. Perhaps it was an anti-anxiety Rx...

 source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/09/erin-andrews-photobombers-funny/


source: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/eminem-joined-brent-musburger-kirk-herbstreit-spectacular-video-023530984--ncaaf.html

 
Of course the only thing more awkward than that is researching the origin of Miley Cyrus' twerk. After much in-depth scientific studying and forensic testing, I think I've stumbled onto something on Youtube. It's a video where a certain Miley lookalike looks like she (he, actually) is going to break out into a full-blown twerk. Luckily for this little bitch (no, not really, but it metaphorically works better if I refer to the dog as a she) her loved one comes in and tells her to stop. [Hint to Billy Ray!]Check it out for yourself. Notice that her ears look a lot like those little tightly twisted top-knots Miley wore to the VMA... so very kinda cute.
 
 
Happy Monday!
 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Maybe I'm No Lady but I Believe in Second Chances

Stories are the peanut butter and jelly in the sandwich of life, yes?

Really good ones are fresh and juicy and when you devour it, you don't care that it gets all over your face or hands or even in your hair a little bit. They are messy deliciousness and that's what living is really about.

There is one recent Facebook post making the rounds that seems to be the makings of a pretty good story. It's got a crusty outside, a totally ooey-goey middle and it's easy to cut in half. There are people who LOVE it and there are people who HATE it. Or rather, there are people who "like" it and share it and other people who won't "like" it but have reacted to it.

It's the story that Kim Hall originally posted on her Christian mom blog, "Givenbreath.com" and it was an open letter to all teenage girls. In the post, Kim condemns teenage girls for their social media content even though some of the content was not meant for her consumption, she admits. Kim, who is the Director of Woman's Ministry at All Saints PCA in Austin, Texas, originally hailed from my current hometown of Wheaton, Illinois; known for a certain stifling sense of conservativeness. For those reasons, and three more distinct reasons you are about to read, I felt obliged to write a retort to her original essay.

But here is my disclaimer: This is all my opinion. Further, it's my opinion that Kim is a good mom and maybe a great mom that loves her boys more than anything, like any good mom does.

My problem with Kim's story is that it's not fair. What a luxury it must be for a person to take to Facebook and condemn ALL others in such a public way. In the face of such omnipotence, I have broken down the essay into three buckets of considerations: 1. It's a global gender-inequity issue when the author blames women for the behavior of bad men 2. It's a culture issue where technology adoption hasn't caught up to user maturity and finally, 3. It's an issue of self-righteousness where forgiveness and support that was afforded to the author is not being paid forward to those who may need it now.

1. Global gender equity takes form in many grotesque ways.
As a mom of 3 ladies; aged 20, 18 and 3; I can speak only for myself. And in this case, my daughters. So shame on you, oh holy mother of scantily clad boys on the beach posing to show off their brute force strength and non-intellect, how dare you tell my daughters how to act around your weaker sexed offspring? In your plight to claim 'purity' as your motherly goal, you place blame and guilt on those outside influences that ultimately will betray you and yours. No one is pure. No one lives on an island. Everyone must go through their own learnings that include successes and failures. If you think a photo of a bra-less classmate or a more graphicly vulgar Hustler centerfold is going to destroy your baby and how he treats all women in the future, you need more than prayer, sweetheart. And don't even get me started on how awful it is to think that a woman is telling another woman that it's her civic responsibility to WEAR A BRA for the comfort of others. Jesus have mercy. Dolly Pardon the pun, but that's too much god-damned pressure. How is it my daughters' responsibility to help sway your boys actions in one direction or the next via the act of wearing a bra or not? What a ridiculous double standard you are, with all your fancy topless photos of hot male-on-male beach action.

Of course I don't want to see my daughters vamping it up like Kim Kardashian and a greased string of strategically placed pearls, but I do want them to figure out who they are on their own terms. I am my daughters mother and not my daughter. I do not want to live her life for her nor would she permit it. I have raised her to be strong and fearless yet I also recognize that no one is perfect nor pure. You seem to claim otherwise and that makes me feel sorry for your boys as they will surely face a cruel reality in no time at all. Why, just the fact that they have access to tumblr tells me they have seen plenty of porn already. The fact is, as moms, we do our best for those we love and then we set them free. It's fraught with disaster and we need all the support we can give each other. Raising kids to be their own person no matter the outside influences is the only way we can foster true integrity. But lt's face it; it's exhausting. It certainly takes a village. A very diverse village. And the more humans they are exposed to, the more humanity they will preach.

The more dangerous part of your prose is the way you place blame on an over-sexualized culture and how that is the fault of teenage girls on Facebook. That sickens me to my very core. And it's ignorant to think that the social sharing platform founded in 2004 is the root cause of impurities among men and inequity among the sexes. Why it was back in 1781 when Jeremy Bentham penned the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation and then in 1949 Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex; both literary pieces that deal with the need for equal moral standards between men and women. More recently, S.E. Smith wrote a handy dandy article on xojane.com that you may want to share with your boys; 31 Things That Are Not An Invitation To Rape. Perhaps we should petition to add another rule and make it 32: Posting selfies on Facebook is not an invitation to rape. Because when I ready your FYI letter, it's almost like you are warning ladies out there that it would be their fault if your pure boys could not restrain themselves after seeing something sexy they could not unsee.

And I'm not the only one. Just read the eloquent words of Kyle David Greenberg, career counselor at Loyola Marymount University when he wrote this comment on your original blog post:
"Everyone seems to be caught up on the “double standards” issue…while I think there ARE double standards on display here, I’m worried that the truly alarming nature of this post is being ignored.
As a few have said, the behaviors and thoughts of your sons are theirs alone. Ultimately, the only person who has control over their behaviors and thoughts are them. I can understand removing stimuli when possible (such as blocking certain people), but I absolutely reject your appeal for every female your sons meet to cater themselves to your standards.
I reacted so strongly to this article not because of the double standard, but because of the repercussions of telling males that it is the female responsibility to make sure they don’t break their standards for sexual behaviors/thoughts. These repercussions are accessories in the rape-culture America so fully embraces: women are afraid of reporting sexual violence because they are constantly bombarded with messages, messages just like this essay, that tell them it is their fault if males “can’t control themselves”; men rampantly blame their victims.  
If you want to block girls’s social media pages, fine. That is your prerogative. But don’t you dare cast guilt and shame on your sons’ friends while concurrently teaching your sons that it’s easier to ignore than to know how to deal. As others have said, you can only block so many stimuli and for so long; your goal shouldn’t be to have sons who never have to deal with stimuli…your goal should be to have sons who are equipped to deal with any stimuli when they do come…because they will.
 
2. Facebook is only a channel -- not an end-all strategy for anything, especially parenting.
In publishing such a public message, you also show ignorance in understanding channels of communication that you COULD be using to parent, guide, influence and otherwise engage in your boys lives and the lives of others that, like I said, will have a far-reaching and ever-powerful influence on them (and you) as they (and you) become more independent and mature. The other issue behind Facebook privacy that you simply don't understand is that it's simply a channel for social connections. It's not a means to an end. If you think otherwise, perhaps you should study the real reason why Mark Zuckerberg founded the original Facemash.

Being a Facebook friend with one of your boys means being a Facebook friend to the family, really? What about your boys' right to privacy? Do you read their diaries or stop them from having wet dreams because you want to keep them pure? Come on now. Perhaps your entire family should delete your Facebook profiles? That would certainly keep those pretty boys pure. And while you are at it, petition your local grocery store to stop selling alcohol and posting those annoying posters of girls frolicking on beaches while drinking it. God knows that kind of influence could someday make your little men think that drinking beer is fun. And of course, television is awful with all that News Reporting of crimes and movies and commercials and other nonsense. I mean, have you seen the movie Spiderman with Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire? One word; nipples! Imagine the horror! And then there are video games, chat rooms, Skype, Snapchat, Instragram, Vine, and about 900,000 other apps for the iPhone, not to mention email, co-ed classes at school, shopping malls, baseball games, soccer leagues, track practice, band (OMG those band kids; wink, wink) and then maybe the worst of all church youth groups and preacher kids that everyone knows is code for Molly parties, oral sex and binge drinking. Clearly I've gone too far. But certainly you see how over-generalizations and preconceived notions muddy the waters of reality. And the reality is; these kids will grow up by living life. With or without Facebook.



3. There should always be second chances.
This one is tough. It may be the toughest for me to tackle because it's so personal it's almost religious. Or rather, it should be. It's my belief that people -- even 'ladies' as Kim puts it -- deserve second chances in life, in love and in Facebook. If not, I don't want to be a lady. Because even ladies are human. And humans make mistakes; they have to in order to grow up and figure out things for themselves. And news flash, humans NEVER STOP MAKING MISTAKES.

For Kim to proclaim such a harsh judgement under the guise of good parenting makes a mockery of the very difficult act of parenting and that is just plain wrong. Don't hide behind oppressive small-mindedness -- OR YOUR RELIGION -- by claiming that you are protecting your children. You are not. You are hurting them and you are hurting other children and other parents along the way. By stating that there will be no second chances, you become a poster child for discrimination at best and a blasphemy of Christianity at worst. But, like I said, it's just my opinion but I believe everyone deserves a second chance in life, in love and in Facebok.


Monday, September 2, 2013

How Facebook Helped Cara Die; Among Friends

Cara was a friend of mine. She had a lot of friends. She wasn’t the popular kind. She was the kind kind. 

What Cara did best was connect. She was an advocate for progressive change. And she was very good at what she loved. 

This is a excerpt from her Linkedin profile:

“I love the challenge and the independence of working in small organizations. I love building things, the team sensibility, the scrappiness I keep finding, and especially, making things happen. 

I have worked for over 10 years in internet research - a career I never would have thought of that as an undergrad acting major! But you can make a lot of things happen via the internet. It's an amazing connecting tool (get on it, you'll be amazed how many people you will meet, in person).”

This post is dedicated to Cara and her effect on social connections.

This is the third and final part in a three-part series I wrote on social connections. I didn't plan to write such a personal account of how vital people are to the success of social media, but it turned out that way in a funny real-life-meets-social-media-meets-real-life sort of fling. Truth is, I am in the business of social, but Cara made being social her business. She shared that with me -- and everyone else privileged enough to cross her path -- so I want to use social to tell her story.

Social Connections: the Business of the People.

The Story of Cara
When I met her, she immediately dropped the f bomb and coincidently I immediately felt a connection. She wore lots of silver jewelry and sometimes didn't shave her legs.  She had an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree in Theatre from Montclair State University and Florida State University, respectively. Her life was dedicated to the act of activism and as her Linkedin profile still displays, she was an expert in nonprofit organization management. She was a mom -- a real and great mom -- who prided herself on raising her two young boys to be the type of men the world needs most. She had the most amazing laugh and a smile that would stop traffic. To top it off, she is whip-freaking-smart and sassy salt of the earth.

Once, while at dinner with a circle of girlfriends, a waitress asked her if she wanted sugar on the rim of her margarita. “Sugar? What the fuck? Salt, my child, salt, like a real woman,” she responded with the best smile ever. And so began our monthly girls night out meetups. Through marriages, babies, divorces, jobs, moves and more, we tried diligently to make our monthly gatherings. If I was lucky, I could claim Cara once a month, but one thing let me have instant access to her; Facebook.

Cara was an early adopter. She embraced emerging technology like no one I had ever experienced. Ten years of internet research is what she claimed on her online profile, but anyone who knew her knew she was an expert far beyond that. As warm and friendly, she was intelligent and technologically sharp…always citing sources, reading investigative journals and brushing up on the newest forms of communication, research and entertainment. She amazed me then and amazes me now. Her background was the arts. She worked in academia and was the single biggest activist for the betterment of society I have ever encountered. She did things her way, but always remained passionate and compassionate. So naturally, Facebook as a channel was a perfect fit for her and her many goals in life; blending news with entertainment with local causes and connections. Facebook was a space and a place that allowed her to vent, promote, research and collaborate to really make a difference.

So when someone created a Team Cara private Facebook group on October 9, 2012, I immediately knew something was up.

192 people were invited to join the group that would allow friends from all over to “follow what is happening and offer support.”

On October 9, a shared friend posted a note about how Cara just had a softball-sized tumor removed from her colon, but that the surgery was successful.  Still in bewilderment, a few people piped up, but not too many. Mostly it was likes and short comments that said thank you for keeping us up to date.

Then on October 10, a friend posted a note that said Cara was back at home, enjoying “Fentanyl, morphine and home-made chicken broth – the holy trinity of post-op recovery.”

People started responding with notes of hope and prayer; asking if she needed anything, seeking detail or direction, but overall wanting to help. This is also the time when the overall theme of the page developed; onward and upward.

Cara left her first message on October 11, 2012 and gently reminded folks to make sure they don’t use the “C” word yet; especially around her two young boys.

A particularly well-written friend wrote this quote from Samuel Butler, taken from “Speech at Somerville Club”, 27 February 1895, “You are definitely not flying solo through this experience. You have created a marvelous foundation of love for just this purpose. Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes along.”

And so it began.

On October 12, Cara posted a remark about how a tiny tickle in her throat had caused discomfort, and people responded back with helpful hints. Tea and honey. This and that.  We were eager to help in any small way.  

And so it continued. Helpful hints, tips, tricks, anecdotes, stories, humor, inspiration and support from everyone formed this community that Cara could count on.

Very soon after, one friend had started a mealtrain.com plan so folks could send dinner to Cara and family. Another friend was able to reach out through Facebook contacts and move an important doctor appointment up for Cara, so she could start a mending plan asap. The community listened and responded appropriately because we had one clear goal. To help Cara.

On October 13, 2012, Cara announced to our small private Facebook community that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer, adenocarcinoma. It had metastasized to her liver. She told us she was proceeding with “curable intent.” And we believed her.

A few friends immediately signed up to run the Colon Cancer Alliance: 2012 Peoria Undy 500. They even posted pictures from the event. Thong and all. Cara squealed with delight and we, as her community of supporters, were beyond happy to see our girl stand up to cancer.

Near the middle of October, the page was flooded with prayers, well-wishing for a good cancer ass-kicking and links to funky hats and scarves, healing products and more. Team Cara community wanted warmth for our dear girl and nothing less.

Cara sprinkled in notes that contained medical terminology like how she told us that the cancer was “run of the mill adenocarcinoma” but that 10 to 12 of the spots were in her lobes. We didn’t need to ask for clarification, we just wanted her to know we were listening and would continue to do whatever she wanted. Joke, share, comment, show-up, send a baked good, donate a few bucks, pick up the kids, whatever. It was all too easy to be present in Cara’s life with cancer on that private Facebook page.

By the end of October, Cara was a little more forthcoming into the difficulties of battling cancer and trying to live the life of a normal healthy person. She admitted to us that she was stunningly exhausted, but her stories were vivacious, her words alive with thought and intelligence and joy. Her words fed our hungry hearts and made the situation seem hopeful and surmountable.  And above all, being connected to Cara during this time, in this very personal way, made us feel blessed.

On October 28, the word “curative” came back into the conversation she had with her oncologist and we all cheered with Cara. Meals continued to be delivered and Amazon packages started to show up on her doorstep.  Friends listened to her request and comments in Facebook conversation and acted upon those. She once asked for book recommendation about eating healthy while battling cancer. I think she got about 12 different books sent straight away! I remember talking to her in person and her remarking that she should have asked for something more tantalizing; like a truckload of vodka or a giant Hershey bar.

On November 11, Cara notified us that her CT scans and PET scan showed that 65-70% of her liver was affected, but she reassured us that she only needed 20-25% to live. She also informed us that she was going to start into chemotherapy and at the same time, would be traveling to University of Chicago for a second opinion. She also told us more about Taco and Bella, her two dogs and what a pain in the ass those dogs were. God, she was so thoroughly funny.

On November 16, Cara informed us that she was taking the “all too accurately named 5FU” chemo drug. She was so effing funny, even in the face of fucking cancer.

Later in the same month when Cara learned that another young mother friend of hers from Seattle had just lost her battle with cancer, we stood up to the challenge and supported her while she waffled a bit. She deserved to mourn. We deserved to carry her during this trying time. We were honored to do so.

On December 2, she celebrated her birthday on Facebook by admitting she was a bit overwhelmed, raising two little dudes, taking care of two busy puppies and kicking cancer in the face. Who could blame her? Not us. We rallied once again for our girl.

And she responded by posting this, “All of you are the best community of support I could wish for.”

The next week, she started chemo #3. She also went Christmas shopping for the kids. She wrote about their school functions, daytime television and the trials of everyday living we all so clearly understood.

For the holidays, she flew off to Pennsylvania for a much needed family trip with the boys and we cheered her on. By the New Year, she wrote about a new technique she was trying; the art of visualization. She was going to visualize the cancer cells dying. She was visualizing a healthy body and we were delighted to hear it. We did the same in our own free time.  By mid-January, she reported that tumors were dying. More needed to die, but progress seemed to be happening. As a group, we could not have been happier. But it was a roller coaster ride and by the very next week, she declared – out of pure exhaustion -- that “Everything’s annoying. Even Facebook. Love you all nonetheless.”



And we did. Love her.

Through her next few months of astrological inspiration, yoga, cancer massage treatments and a newfound love of reiki, we listened, read, commented and liked all her stories. We were fascinated by the details and in love with the fight. What a girl.

In February, Cara posted lyrics to a new song she found on YouTube by Melanie DeMore. “I am sending you light to heal you, to hold you. I am sending you light, to hold you in love.”

Friends sent around a www.breastcancersite.com url for clicks to fund mammograms and Cara encouraged us to share it. Another friend sent a realplayer video about nursing staff dancing around a cancer center and it just tickled Cara and she “liked” it and thus, so did we. By the end of February, a friend started a virtual gift fund to raise money for Cara (at www.youcaring.com) because of all the financial difficulties that come with battling cancer on your own. We used www.signupgenius.com to create a schedule so we could all help with housework, too.  The dogs and the boys needed help while our girl still needed help. We were there to lend as much help as we could. For some, it was showing up and cleaning the kitchen, while for others it was daily prayer from far away. Cara needed it all and was so grateful for each and every contribution.

In the middle of March 2013, Cara announced that she had bad news. Chemo #9 started showing new signs of growth. Cara ensured us that her doctors were on the hunt for the next best thing and she was willing to buckle down for the long haul. We were too. By March 22, Cara was able to post that she had had “a pretty damn good day!” And we were thrilled for her and the boys.

April brought a day trip to an indoor water park for the boys and a mouth full of sores for Cara. Magic mouthwash made her smile, as did we. Another success story for April was that Cara finally got her book published. She sent the Amazon link out and we all celebrated for her.

At the end of April, Cara posted a long, descriptive note detailing financial hardship, overwhelming pain and fatigue, numb fingers and toes, and whoozy chemo brain – and yet, she did it all in a very positive, funny manner. She left the message by writing, “Okay, that’s all I can muster right now. Peace, love, and happiness to all of you wonderful, awesome friends! Xoxo”

We responded in kind, in line and with notes of prayer and inspiration. It was all we could do and we wanted to do it all.

In May, she posted about planting petunias with her parents. She wrote of the kids often. She gave us updates that were sometimes foggy on medical details (to protect us probably) and other times laid it out like a doctor’s journal. It’s amazing how much a cancer patient has to become a cancer expert in order to make sense of it all. We were in awe by this, by her. We left comments to inspire and lift, but along the digital journey, we learned a good deal from our dear Facebook friend Cara.

It was during this difficult time that a close friend started to provide some of the updates for Cara, for us. She told us how the doctors finally confirmed the chemo was not working and that they were working on a new plan to cut off the blood supply to the affected part of the liver. Then they would try new experimental therapies to kill the cells. Sounded like a plan to us. We cheered and wished well. We liked and commented with prayers, poems and moments of inspiration.

Cara wrote, “Who could fail to thrive in the loving arms of such awesome people.” And I cry each time I imagine her typing those words of comfort to us.

Shortly after that, Cara took a whirlwind trip to San Francisco, to visit her brother and his lovely family. She took the boys to Alcatraz. They ate Chinese buffet at R&J’s. They rode the cable cars and they jumped at a trampoline gym. Then they returned to Illinois to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Right after she returned home from Northwestern, Cara took to Facebook to fill us in on the exciting news. She was going to be BEDAZZLED. (Her words!) Tiny glass beads full of radiation were going to be injected into her bloodstream through an artery in her thigh. Those beads would build a defense against cancer from the inside out. She was so thrilled to be part of this learning and her words filled up with excitement and hope. She even published a link to a video where we could learn more: www.therapheres.com

Our response, of course, was to applaud. To cheer our dear girl on. BEDAZZLED or not, she was our shining star.

The new therapy left her beyond exhausted and on June 29, she described how difficult it was to even lift a toothbrush. Prayers came in waves from across the country.

July started with fluid in her belly and a blocked bile duct. She told us about what was happening to her in vivid detail. Her eyes were yellow, she exclaimed, but we felt her smile coming through in each new update. It was this time, though, and it was the first time, though, that Cara asked for no visitors.  Reading these words left a hush across our virtual community as if we had all agreed to hold our breathe for her, hold her heart for her.

As quickly as the hush fell, she rebounded with a note of joy. She had asked for more (better) pain meds and she got what she wanted. We were thrilled to read that her pain was subsiding, even momentarily. She also told us about a family trip to New Hampshire she was preparing for and we were all thrilled and wished her and the boys the very, very best. Photos from the trip poured in; big, floppy hats, yellow sundresses, lakes, swimming, fishing, napping, smiling. Gorgeous Cara and her beautiful baby boys. The images uploaded to Facebook provided our small community more comfort and joy than anyone can possibly imagine.

Cara returned home and on July 23, left a message about biting nails that we all knew she didn’t have, while waiting for blood work results and CT scans. Later in the same day, Cara reported news we didn’t want to hear. News she had not hoped for. News that the radiation didn’t work and the tumors had grown. She was jaundiced. Her liver had distended. She said there was nothing left to do but pray.

And so we did.

Prayers and stories from all corners of Facebook poured in and peppered our dear Team Cara page with hope, support and above all, love for Cara. 

Hospice was called in and our small circle of Facebook friends responded by turning inward and supporting each other as Cara would have demanded. We knew she was in no shape to share or comment, but the family reassured us that they took time to read Facebook comments to her every day. So everyday we posted fresh stories and prayers.  

And in the end, all we prayed for was peace. 

One friend wrote this:

“Went to bed with you on my mind and woke up with you on my mind. I guess it helps to write it down on this page. Thinking a lot about your boys and how much they love and need you. Hard to work like it is just another day…but it’s not.”

Another friend posted this:

 












Another friend posted this brave and heart-wrenching essay on Cara, Facebook and the importance of staying connected online and in real life, on a public Facebook page:
"Facebook is a time-wasting, attention-span-draining self-fest. But, like most technology, its functionality can be user-defined. Facebook is also a revolutionary method of communicating with the people whom, throughout every chapter and circle in our lives, we hold of value. If one can see beyond the games, likes, YouTube shares, selfies, political rants and laptop farming, there is a genuine connection, albeit digital, wherein we can share moments as important as the ones which brought us together. I'm not proud to say that I must have been lost, distracted or absorbed in the wasteland of my own self-service that I lost sight of what is truly important. A dear old friend, Cara Andrichak Rossen, had been posting updates as she entered each round of chemo treatments in her fight against cancer. I had known about her battle, but regretfully assumed she was on her way back to health. I missed many opportunities to wish her the best at each and every stage of her fight. I got news last night that Cara, who had entered hospice last week at the ripe old age of 41, had passed away. I turned to her page and saw her smiling face, along with photos of her two young boys who are growing way too fast. As immature and mindless as Facebook can be, let's not forget its simplest, most genuine ability to connect us together.
— with Cara Andrichak Rosson."

My dear sweet friend Cara Rosson passed away on August 1, after putting up one helluva fight. Amid all the grace and foolishness, Facebook was there for us all. There is now a public Facebook page dedicated to the memory of Cara Andrichak Rosson; pulled together from her own Facebook timeline and her beloved friends from all over the globe. Thank you Facebook, for being so global, so local and so emotional. Thank you Facebook, for allowing our girl Cara to go onward and upward in peace, among friends. 

Until we meet again, love.