The Wisdom of Crowds

Back in the olden days. Well 2010 to be exact I was working with some healthcare professionals at a web Site called Social Media Healthcare. We were discussing social media healthcare. I posted the following article The Health Care Revolution Will Be Tweeted. This focused on a Gladwell article in the New Yorker that basically said Twitter and Facebook cannot change the world. Gladwell sums up his thoughts nicely when he says, “Are people who log on to their Facebook page really the best hope for us all?” I attempted to counter that with data regarding social networks strong ties and weak links yet I came back to the point that joiners in social networks are primarily there to watch, learn, and listen. Participation is largely limited to a few. Yet in the end those who share a voice do help those who listen and read and watch.

Recently I was struck by a community I joined shortly after Donna’s passing. The community is called Widowed Village. How I discovered them is a testimony to networking and random connections. My local neighborhood bar is Ward III. The owners and bartenders there were part of Donna and my world during her illness and at her death. They were so supportive and helpful.

One of the owners of Ward III mentioned to me his sister started a web community called Widowed Village. He gave me her email address and I wrote. I joined the site but, I was a bit reticent to become active. Only because I am not really a joiner. A group started that year was called Widowed in 2011. Simple yet accurate.

I read, listened, and posted a couple of times. I was on the list to receive comments in my inbox. I was struck by how similar our journeys were and the same emotions everyone shared. At nearly identical times. And that would happen in flurries of posts. Someone would comment on say an anniversary of a death and the group would respond with their thoughts and reaction. Many times when members reflected on some fear or sadness, everyone or those responders would rally to support. And when a member was noting asshole behavior of a family member we would be there to help. This brings me back to Gladwell and change the world. I am not sure Widowed Village changes the world but for a few of us we are embraced and learn. We may be lurkers and readers but I know for me and for others we have benefited and changed by what we’ve read or said. It is not the world but me which is far more important. 

Recently there has been a significant amount of activity on Widowed Village on a forum that I’m not sure how I ended up on Dating and Love. I think it may be that being on Widowed in 2011 someone in that group linked to this Dating Forum. I know it was not me since I am not dating nor do I want to for some very personal reasons. I hate being asked why didn’t I call when I said I would, where were you last night, and what is your financial status. Okay I am sensitive. My bigger point is the volume of activity on this topic, the quality of the responses, and the sense of community and not just of a few of the many is a bright spot for me. I may add for everyone since the posts are flying. I would say this is trending but, it may only be a function of our grieving timeline or just that love was so prevalent in our past and during our loved ones death that it is a topic we need to speak about. Or just that like the weather we all want to complain but can’t do shit about it. No matter the reason I am so struck by the quality of the comments and responses and how well they connect with me and others.

Here are some snippets from this thread. Less the words but the depth of emotion and support.

I just want to love and be loved. simply that. I don’t need complication and intricate demands. Take your time but date at your own pace. No one has the right to tell you when. People sure told me and I think my sisters still think I shouldn’t… There is no right or wrong answer. I was really ready before a year but thats me. And now I am looking to start all over again. grrrrrrr….

…in this relationship so it’s been about 2 months now. It feels very real and it makes me very happy but as it has continued to deepen my family has become polarized. Parts of my family have realized they have not dealt with XYZ death and this relationship is forcing them too and they are not taking it very well. I am trying to be sympathetic and at the same time insist that my journey is mine. The real hard part is that I end up defending or fighting for a relationship that is very new and very well may or may not be long term. It’s silly.

Now I still have all of this love inside of me that I have no idea what to do … I have stated dating just a couple of dates so far .. I’m ready to share my heart again … But I’m not liking this dating thing … Why are men so afraid to date a widow i just don’t understand it … There is a part of me that is broken and will never heal .. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to love someone else … This has been the hardest road i have ever had to face alone ! With no one to talk to about how I feel with dating,,,

Those are just a sample of 35 pages of comments. The bigger point is that there is wisdom in the crowd and from the crowd. The crowd that is pulled together by a common topic, hurt, pain, problem or goal seems to become one single organism to help each other. It is organic learning and proves social media is a village sharing the day around the well and fountain. It works.