Image courtesy of Canadian Armed Forces
Social Media Changed My Life
This is a dramatic statement but as a spouse of a serving member of the military it has been my lifeline since it’s inception. Military Families are often alone and in new locations with out family or social support. Since 2007, participation by Military Spouses in online Facebook communities has exploded. (There are 4 groups in Ottawa alone with membership of of 1252) This has meant no matter where in the country or world you have been posted you always have your ‘peeps’. Whether they are old friends or new.
Listening and Monitoring
Understanding your community is especially important when you are speaking about social support. A little time and effort spent listening is all one needs to do to keep your finger on the pulse of that communities specific and emerging needs.
Google Alerts – This is a great way to monitor announcements from the Department of National Defense, to watch for upcoming deployments, and exercises. It is also a great way to keep your eye on what public and non public fund organizations are are doing with regards to Military Family social support. The Military Family Resource Centres often host events and these are triggered by Google Alerts, but most family support has become organic. Spouses supporting Spouses.
Facebook Search – Military Families congregate in ‘Secret’ Facebook groups, and because of this regular listening tools don’t necessarily work. From a social support perspective, having access to these groups as a community member can provide invaluable information. Watching the message boards allows one to see very quickly and clearly, the issues facing military families today. Using Facebook Search within these private groups can then allow the user to specifically search for relevant data. Everything that Military Families deal with on a day to day basis is on offer, from PTSD to depression, deployments to finding a family doctor.
News and Updates
While the evening news often headlines with images of our Canadian Armed Forces doing their jobs around the world, it is often highlighting images that sell news – capitalizing on the story of the day. While this is interesting it does not provide enough of the picture that I am looking for. I get much of my news through Facebook and Twitter social media.
The West Block – Facebook. I follow many political news feeds but I do find that The West Block provides a Canadian viewpoint. When the decisions made in parliament today may directly affect my communities life it behooves me to keep track of what our political masters may have in store for us. This site provides a uniquely Canadian perspective on world events.
DND/CF Ombudsman – Twitter. I find that this organization has a fantastic Twitter presence but unfortunately no Facebook presence. I do enjoy the information they share on Twitter as they are good at informing their followers of ongoing issues that affect not only Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but also their families. They address specific problems related to life in the service and what is being done to address these issues.
Social media changed my life. Sharing a common experience is part of any community. Making social connections in new communities can difficult but Social Media has enabled the rapid sharing of information, both on a personal level as well as a political level. When people are armed with information and social support they are surprisingly resilient.