We hear all the time about the power of new media or social media in today’s culture. New media refers to much of the online content that people share via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…. It is used to connect people, businesses and ideas. Some people doubt that relationships forged in this virtual world are sustaining and deep; however my experience last week proves otherwise.
Almost 14 years ago, I joined an email list of women involved in my college sorority. Several hundred of us from all over the country, different colleges, of various age ranges and at ever stage of life email each other daily. At the height of the list’s popularity a few years ago, I could receive 100 emails a day on any given topic. At first our only connection to each other was simply the bond of our sisterhood.
Through the years I’ve become friends with many of the ladies on the list as we got married, weathered natural disasters, rejoiced in the birth of new legacies and supported each other through personal struggles. Just as with any group of women, we’ve argued and bickered over everything and nothing. With the surging popularity of Facebook, we can now see each other’s smiles and interact even more. Many of these women I consider great friends and some I’ve had the immense pleasure of hugging in person.
Last week, our group lost one of our most vibrant sisters to a senseless tragedy. Denai Vaughn was killed in a traffic accident in Amarillo, Texas leaving behind a loving husband and young daughter. In a heartbeat, the reality of our virtual sisterhood came crashing through my laptop screen. For us, everything stopped as our group unified in stunned silence. The loss of our sister is palpable and real.
Denai founded and worked with several ventures utilizing and specializing in marketing within the online community. Her beautiful, happy face was seen many times a day, every day, brightening up my Facebook news feed, spreading her marketing message, her love of our Lord, and joy for life. Because Denai was deeply involved with social and new media, her friendship via the virtual world was even more powerful.
The very morning she lost her life, she recorded her last video podcast preserving for eternity her thoughts on dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. Denai’s last message sent through new media offers each of us one last connection with Denai and healing through her very own words.
Whomever doesn’t believe in the power of new media or recognize virtual friendships as “real” should witness our group as we mourn and celebrate this amazing sister who was called home to God too early. Denai was always an inspiration to us in life and her life will now leave a lasting legacy on her Phi Mu sisters forever.
“We aren’t promised tomorrow, but we do have today. Live a life that outlives your life.” ~ Denai Vaughn