Yesterday I attended the memorial service for Bert Tippett. I met Mr. Tippett during my first week of college. He was a teacher, a dear friend, a mentor, and role model to me of what meant to be a kind, genuine, graceful man who loved God, his family and those around him. A few years ago I had the privilege of working alongside him in a few projects. He was one of the few people, perhaps the only one I have ever known, who was loved and respected by every person he met. His life was a true testament of God’s grace. He lived well and during the last few years, fought cancer valiantly. But Bert didn’t die alone and unappreciated. Interestingly, Facebook had a lot todo with that.
Mr. Tippett’s 1,904 friends on Facebook kept a steady stream of encouraging messages posted on his wall day and night since he was diagnosed with cancer over 2 years ago. The number grew as his family posted updates of his battle. These weren’t random strangers, but people whose lives had been touched by Bert over decades. Three different times in last’s night service we heard how much Mr. Tippett’s Facebook friends posts meant to him. Now after his passing, his family has received hundreds and soon to be thousands of messages from friends who are praying and thinking of them. The impact of this online community is powerful like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I have shed tears reading through so many heart-felt posts.
I’ve always thought of social media as a tool for connecting faith, life, and work, but in death, it’s even more powerful. While some have proclaimed the evils of Facebook, I have experienced the sacred digital ground where love, honor and kindness embraced an entire family.
What’s has your experience been with an online community?