I am usually one of the first to say that I have a love-hate-hate relationship with technology. I do not own a smartphone, don’t use my cellphone except in emergencies, I don’t text, my Twitter account is rarely updated, I never post “status updates” and my laptop and I are only sometimes friends. For the most part, I’ve thought for some time that while it would be difficult, for awhile, to get used to a world free of the technology we take for granted today, it would be to mankind’s benefit in the long run.
Then I came upon the article about Baby Avery. (Link: Yahoo article or to the original blog, “Avery Can”). In short, after learning that their child was diagnosed with a fatal disease and had a very limited prognosis, the family started a “bucket list” of all the things they wanted their young daughter to achieve, no matter how little time she had. The essential goal was that it would help to raise awareness of SMA, to prevent other children and family’s from suffering the same fate.
With my general distaste for technology, as you may imagine, I was surprised to find myself actually writing about this child, her family, and SMA. When I learned that she had passed away, tears poured down my face – for a family and a child I have never met, have only read about online. I guess I also found this surprising because I don’t feel any connection / affiliation with celebrities or most other stories I find online. So why the tears? My theory is that I imagined myself in their position, having a young child of my own, and empathy swelled for them and in a way myself, had I been in the situation. That’s selfish, I know, but I think the fear that I could be in the same situation – but that I’m not – somehow plays into it all.
Anyway, this all got me thinking about how maybe our inter-connectivity isn’t as heinous as I frequently think it is. I actually checked out the blog page, and as the views counter steadily ticked onwards and upwards well past 4 million, it was clear I wasn’t the only one touched. Does this help the family? Does this somehow help their daughter gain a kind of immortality, because at least perhaps she has made a difference, as young as she was? Can we really make a difference to someone we’ve never met – may never meet – by somehow reaching out across time and space via our technology?
The reality is, horrible things happen every day. If you dwell too much on it, the world looks pretty dark. But if we reach out to one another, if there could actually be more empathy and patience between one another, wouldn’t that actually make the world better? Perhaps its just the optimist in me (who hasn’t been recently hammered down by the pessimist – I’m Gemini, so I get to be both), but it seems that hope really is a powerful thing, and no matter how many horrible things happen, if we have hope – even if it’s strengthened by the words of a stranger miles away via text or tweet – maybe the future could be happy after all.