Whiskey Tango Facebook

I cannot take it anymore.  This is the first in a series on social media etiquette.  I work and interact in social media. I’ve seen a lot.  Much of it is good, some is bad, and occasionally, it’s horrid.  I find myself saying, Whiskey Tango Facebook far too often.  I’ve made errors myself and, I’ve learned from them.   If you choose to read this, know that it comes from first hand experience.   Hopefully this advice will cause you to think before you post.

The event that precipitated this post is something that I’ve seen time and again. In fact, it’s happened to me.  Yesterday, another friend found out about his parent’s hospitalization via a public Facebook post.   It upset him, it upset me and it’s time someone writes about it.  I tend to eschew the posting of social media “rules” but, some basic SoMe etiquette guidance is obviously in order.  One should never find out about the serious illness or death of a close friend of family member via social media…EVER!

In my experience, the offenders of this rule are not the much maligned millennials.  I have some words of wisdom for them also but this particular post is directed at those older and ahem, wiser folks.  So, let’s get to the meat of the matter.

There is no way to dance around this; some families are dysfunctional. Sometimes there are family issues so messy that it precludes a personalized phone call.   I understand this.  Still, it is simply unacceptable to find out about the serious illness of a relative on Facebook.  Posting about a death before all family members and close friends have been notified is also verboten. It should go without saying but, it happens.   A text message is not ok either (unless you all decide as a family that this is how you will communicate).   A serious illness, hospitalization and especially a death require a phone call.   Yes, I said “require.”

Requirements though are often dismissed when there is a family dynamic such that certain people do not “speak” to one another.  If that’s your situation, you must find a solution that takes this into account.  If you know that a phone call is impossible, you must have another plan.  First, I suggest that you find an impartial person (an aunt or uncle, niece or nephew) that is designated as the communications person for the family.   I encourage having a back up person as well.   This sounds simple but it can be a bit complex as the designated “comms” person will have to have HIPAA authority, (legal authority to obtain private medical information), as to the status of the health of the family member. Without getting too far in the weeds, HIPAA is the law that protects patient confidentiality.  Everyone should have a person or two that is designated (in writing), to be the recipient of a patient’s medical information.  In other words, have a point person for medical personnel to be able to legally disclose medical information to.  Most hospitals and Dr. Offices will have HIPAA waiver forms.  The forms must be filled out before there is an emergent situation.  A copy must be on file with the patient’s hospital and Dr but I also suggest that the family communications person also carry a hard copy of the HIPAA release with them.  All of this requires some pre emergency planning.

For the severely dysfunctional family that can not manage a phone call, here’s an idea worth exploring and yes, it involves Facebook.  You can create a closed Facebook group for such eventualities.  You need not even be Facebook friends to be in a group together.  Such a group, for example, could be called “The Smith Family Medical Group.”   Everyone sets their notifications for the group to ON.  The person who is the designated communicator can then post the details of an illness or other emergency in that group.  When I say details, I do so purposefully.  The post should include ALL the specifics of what is known about the patient.  The following could be an example of such a post:

“Dear All:  This is to let you know that Dad (Jim) is at Cedar General Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  His Dr. Is Susan Jones, M.D.  The phone number to the nurse’s station is 555-555-5555.  He is currently in the surgical ward being evaluated for possible gallstones.  He is stable and they are managing his pain.  He had an ultrasound and they are discussing the benefits and risks of a possible surgery.    If they decide to go forward with the surgery, they will do it via laparoscopy so the incisions and the recovery time will be easier.  He’s also on intravenous antibiotics (and they do know of his allergy to Penicillin).  He’s currently on a liquid only diet.  The surgeon will evaluate him at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5th.  We will know more then and I will update in this group immediately after we know something more.

Dr. Jones asks that family not call his room at this time as he is sedated from the pain medication and sleep is the best thing for him.  I am the point person and Joe is the back up.  One of us will keep you informed if anything changes prior to the above appointment.  If you have any questions, please post below and I will ask the Dr. tomorrow.  That’s what we know at the moment.  He’s doing fine, is not in horrible pain and they will decide on a treatment plan tomorrow.   I will be in touch shortly thereafter.  As specified in our group rules (above in the doc), please LIKE or comment once you have seen this.  Please do not post anything in the public timeline on social media until all group members have seen this.  After that, remember dad’s wishes for privacy and keep everything on social media in general terms.

Thanks all.  Tracy. “

In other words, if you go this route, be specific, clear and cautious.  Take time to think of all of the questions you would have if you were on the receiving end of such a message. DO have some group rules decided upon before hand and posted in the group document.   It’s not ideal, but with so many extended families, dysfunctional families and people that do not use common sense on social media, it’s the best I could come up with.  Perhaps you can think of something better.  If so, go for it but whatever you decide, make sure all family members (yes, even that person) knows, is on board, and that the “rules” are clear.

Oddly enough the aforementioned, much maligned millennials seem to have grasped some of the SoMe etiquette better than the Gen Xers, the in-betweeners and the Baby Boomers.   Worry not.  I have equal generational critique enough to go around.  For example, I plan on addressing how the (much maligned) millennials have no freaking clue how to write a snail mail thank you note.  That is another post entirely and one I plan on writing soon.

Please, do not wait until this becomes an issue for your family.  Make a plan, set up some guidelines and make sure all concerned persons are on board.  Duke it out before there is an illness, accident or death.  When that time comes, it’s stressful enough without letting SoMe drama exacerbate the already stressful time. No one ought to be the recipient of bad news regarding a family member via social media.  Share this post far and wide.  Get a plan, and use it.  Please and thank you.

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A Promise Kept. Gizmo has a home!

July 28,2011

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while.  Many of you helped in the search for a home for Gizmo so you ought to know the outcome.  Sadly, the veteran died before a home was found for his beloved Gizmo but I know he knew how much interest there was in Gizmo.  Hopefully he passed with the knowledge that Gizmo would be placed suitably.  What are the odds that another veteran who had just lost his dog ALSO named Gizmo would hear of this story and step up?  I’m not an oddsmaker but as detailed below, this is exactly what happened.

Again, thank you to all that helped in the quest to find a home for Gizmo.  Thanks to Pets for Patriots for all you do.  Thanks to Mr. and Mr. Peterman for taking Gizmo.  Thanks to social media for getting this story far and wide and a special thanks for my friend Michelle who not only brought this to my attention but went the extra mile in her efforts to help “Mr. Smith”.  May he rest in peace and may Gizmo live a long and happy dog’s life!

Jul 05, 2011

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Lyman Peterman and Gizmo

By Beth Zimmerman, Pets for Patriots

A few weeks ago we were asked to help an elderly, dying Korean War veteran find a home for his dog, Gizmo. In spite of our efforts and those of many people across the country, this hero died before his wish could be fulfilled. But fate was about to play an unlikely hand in the tale of Gizmo, a pint–sized Shih Tzu with a Great Dane–sized spirit and a love for life.

Word spread like wildfire, fueled by the urgency of the veteran’s grave condition and the prospect of his pooch being suddenly without a home or anyone to care for him. Scores of people from across the country offered to give Gizmo a new life, each with a compelling story of their own. One was the daughter of another San Diego area veteran, whose appeal was so personal and touching — and so perfect — that we had a feeling that this was “it.”

We forwarded the information to Nick Winfrey at Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas, as we did with all potential adopters who contacted us. Nick is a Marine veteran who now dedicates himself to helping the countless homeless dogs and cats that find their way to Rancho Coastal; the organization is one of our charity’s outstanding shelter partners in California. Nick and I spoke about this one, very special adoption candidate. He agreed; this definitely felt like “the one.”

The woman who wrote to us is the daughter of Lyman “Tim” Peterman, a WWII veteran who will be 90 years young this month. Earlier in June, Tim lost his 15 year-old Shih Tzu dog whose name happened to be — Gizmo! Tim took daily walks with his Gizmo, and was completely bereft when the dog died after a long illness.

We wondered: was it possible that one veteran — who died, leaving his Gizmo unexpectedly homeless — could give renewed purpose to another veteran whose own Gizmo had just died?

Tim applied and was accepted as a member Patriot of our program, which entitles him to ongoing, reduced cost veterinary care and other benefits, such as direct financial support to make pet food and other basics more affordable. At nearly 90, Tim is the most senior member of our program, besting an 88 year-old Marine veteran who lives in Florida with her honorably adopted dog, Laddie. We’re proud to bring the unconditional love and joy of companion pet ownership to veterans and service members of any age, from all armed forces and from any stage of their military lives.

On June 30, Tim went to Rancho Coastal Humane Society, with his wife and daughter by his side, and honorably adopted his new Gizmo as three network television stations filmed the event. He met Chyba, a retired military K9 whose likeness graces Rancho Coastal’s Military Working Dog memorial — the first in San Diego and the only private such memorial west of the Mississippi. Speaking as one veteran to another, Tim thanked Chyba for her service.

And if all of this seems like just a sweet little pet tale, think again. Tim told his crowd of newfound admirers that this was the happiest day of his life since he was serving in the Army in Berlin, and the town crier announced that the war was over. We hear there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Today, a veteran is smiling from his heavenly perch, at peace in the knowledge that his beloved little Gizmo is bringing joy to a brother in arms.

Pets for Patriots

About Pets for Patriots
Pets for Patriots, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) charity that helps service and veteran members of the United States military honorably adopt adult and at-risk shelter pets. Its mission is to consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy and companionship to both pet and person.  Pets for Patriots is one of the only organizations in the country dedicated to both homeless pets and military personnel at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces. The charity is a proud member of the Army AW2 Wounded Warrior Program national community support network, a national partner of the Real Warriors Campaign and is listed by the National Resource Directory for ill and wounded veterans. Visit Pets for Patriots online today and Be A Pet’s Hero(TM).

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©2011 Pets for Patriots, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Don’t Get Jo Joe’d. A social media lesson.

So, I am the Twister that Brooks refers to in his post :

Fakes. What do we do when we suspect they’re among us?

I can attest to all he has written in this post and then some. Like Brooks though, I am not up for writing War and Peace tonight, so this is some of the rest of the story.

I too was duped by Jo Von Ho. This goes way back, and I honestly do not recall all the particulars of our involvement. I was on phone calls, internet chatrolls etc. with her. This was probably prior to the June primary as I was working with Anystreet to encourage help with the Chuck Devore campaign. One evening I was tweeting with Jo (aka @FemmePatriot) when Brooks dm’d me: “there is an imposter in our community”. He and I subsequently talked and it did not stop there. Without embarrassing anyone in the Anystreet organization, it would be impossible to tell you the depth of the cover up of the fraud, Jo Von Ho.  One would have thought I had learned my lesson!

As Brooks says, “fast forward” to a few weeks ago when tweets began flying requesting prayers for “Raquel” by her sister “Anamaris”.   I became emotionally invested in Raquel and tweeted a few things in the public timeline to Anamaris. I also began dm’ing with her regularly. Additionally, I DID pray for her sister.  It was not until Brooks contacted me and questioned the legitimacy of this that I stopped to think. Actually, at first, I assured him it was real. He persisted, and reminded me of Jo Von Ho so I went into action that very day. My phone records reflect that this was on 12/22.  I believe I first contacted my friend Michelle (@MichelleinCAL on twitter) in San Diego who I knew was very emotionally vested in the welfare of Raquel. (By the way, I have met Michelle in person.) I told Michelle that Brooks was skeptical of this as was I.  Michelle shared with me things that Anamaris had not told me. Notably that Raquel was at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. I immediately called UCSF and was informed that “There is no patient by the name of Raquel Esparragoza” in ANY unit at UCSF. How about a Raquel E? No, nobody by that name either. I was transferred to a supervisor who went to great lengths to search the database. There was no Raquel E at UCSF. I shared this with Michelle who also called the hospital. She got the same responses and the same careful service. We were not dismissed outright; they really looked for “our friend Raquel who is in ICU on life support”.  Michelle called to my attention that there is more than 1 UCSF phone number so; both she and I tried again. For the third time I was told that there was no Raquel E in the hospital. Michelle went into action and found a web form to email patients at UCSF.   She sent an email, it was bounced back.

Meanwhile, I checked out the dates of the twitter accounts and the facebook accounts and discovered them to be new. Raquel’s was created in mid November and Anamaris’ was created on December 14th, 2010. Additionally, Raquel had a Facebook page created in November. I know one person whose friend request was accepted during the time period that Raquel was in a coma. Hey, miracles happen. But not this time…

The details of this summation could actually fill a volume as large as War and Peace. Suffice to say; from that day forward, Michelle and I were trying to get as much information out of “Anamaris” as possible. Michelle was able to obtain Raquel’s Dr’s names: Dr’s Chen and Ueda : (see dm’s to Michelle  http://yfrog.com/h0o8np ) which are both common names at UCSF. No first names were given but Michelle did google those names and found them to be Dr’s on staff at UCSF. Yes, it was “googlable”.  So, as I discovered was the treatment that Anamaris was posting on her timeline. All, was very googlable. We were on high alert by this time and pretty sure this was a scam, but we were being ultra cautious.

Ok, this MAY turn into “War and Peace”; Michelle  and I also spent hours checking out A multitude of LIES that Anamaris had told Michelle. For example the one about being a bail bonds person in Texas. No go there either. We tried to give every opportunity for this story to be true. It was not to be.

I could go on with the BS dm’s Anamaris sent me, and Michelle but, I think we are finished here. Michelle emailed me her dm’s which has been terribly handy since Anamaris deleted them all. We have referred back to them many times. Oddly enough, she did not delete mine. I guess I was not on her radar as much as Michelle was. I don’t know. Who’s to know what is in the mind of , what I believe to be, a terribly ill person?

Oh, additionally, I asked a pal of mine, who is connected, to check this out.  He actually did not get back to me until after Brooks posted this but he has a Dr. Friend in San Francisco who checked the data base at UCSF and NO Raquel! None! She does not exist.

What is the moral of this story? I don’t know. “Trust but Verify” or “Verify then Trust”?   Brooks planted the seed with Jo Von Ho, and he planted the seed with this fraud. Truth is, Michelle and I knew this was likely a scam going back to 12/22/10 and I feel like a wuss for not stepping up sooner. It wasn’t until Michelle and Brooks started tweeting this out this morning that I stepped up. My instincts are good, they rarely fail me, and I won’t get VonHoed again!  Additionally, next time I will speak up sooner.  I did post a comment on Anthony Martin’s (@Welshman007 on twitter) first blog post imploring him to check into this. Since no money was apparently asked for, it was ignored. In true wuss fashion, I posted it as Kristen Noel. Wuss no more. These are the facts nothing but the facts and I do attest to them. Anyone want to see proof and I will post dm’s, though that would then truly make this War and Peace.

So, there you have it. War and Peace II plus an addendum. Any additional questions and you can contact me at @hipEchik on twitter. Thank you Brooks for posting this, and for reminding me, of what is right, the truth. Thank you Michelle for being my friend and fellow sleuth! The truth prevailed! Thank you all for your prayers. Whoever did this truly needs them

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