“18-year-old high school student, Ashley Billasano did not show up to Rosenberg’s BF Terry High School on Tuesday morning. She had taken her life the day before, after taking to her Twitter page to air out all of her personal demons. The young girl had allegedly been sexually abused by members of her family and received no justice for any of it. She posted 144 times over the course of 6 hours on her Twitter page, which has over 500 followers, explaining how she had been molested and forced into prostitution, before committing suicide. No one stopped her. Even after one of her final tweets stated, “I’d love to hear what you have to say but I wont be around.”” – www.therundown.tv

This story horrifies me. It also convicts me as to how I truly am using social media in this headline nation.

Do I ever take time to seek to read beyond the tweet? Do I look for signs in others by way of their tweet feed that might scream… “Somebody please listen!!!”??

I quoted recently that 50% of communication is listening. Frankly, I think it is a lot more.

If we are not giving ourselves time to listen on social media, then why would anyone want to spend time listening to us?

I talk about this in my class with regards to the humanization of social media and that we think social media can be a waste of time, yet sadly for her it was because too many of us were talking and not listening.

Now I am not placing blame on you, me, or anyone else. I am not even wanting to play the guilt card. However, what I am asking is this… how much listening do you do on social media? And when you do see something that stands out, do you ask the question?

Are you okay?

Do you realize the power those three words can be to someone like Ashley?

Sure, people can say all they want about how social media is fake and a waste of time. But, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see… it can be life saving. This is not some big sim game. For many, it is life or death and a cry out to somebody… anybody.

Do me a favor and take a long hard look at that picture of Ashley. Do you feel what I feel?

Be hope to somebody today by noticing them and listening to them. Who knows, in doing this, you might just save a life.


20 responses »

  1. BundlePost says:

    So true. What a great focus for us all to improve Gunnar

  2. Just to give you a flip side to this tragic story, so horrific to know she reached out and got no response. i have a facebook “friend” , never met her, didn’t know her from Adam, who occasionally gets overwhelmed with life, with due reason I might add. She is pretty open about all she is dealing with and will go into great detail. She has on a few occasions gone as far as to threaten suicide. From every corner of the US people who do not know her apart from FB have gone as far as to organize and gather info and brainstorm to the point of actually being able to find her and send 911 to her door. we have had all night sessions of communication to try to keep her focused, help her through things. she is now starting to get on a more even keel. Tiring, yes, intense, oh yes. but to know we made a difference… amazing. i am so sorry this young lady did not have a few people who could have rallied around her. so sad.

    • @gunnarsimonsen says:

      thanks for sharing this. so glad to hear that you were all listening and then acted accordingly. It is so sad about Ashley. It just rips my heart apart thinking about her 18 years of life.

  3. lomseedsofhope says:

    “If we are not giving ourselves time to listen on social media, then why would anyone want to spend time listening to us?”

    What a powerful question. One I will definitely ponder…

  4. Annie says:

    Thanks for this post Gunnar! It was really convicting for me. I know I spend a lot of time trying to be heard, but honestly is just hasn’t sat that well with me. I think this might be a huge component as to why!

    • @gunnarsimonsen says:

      Annie, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are not alone. If give me much to pause too. This story has broken my heart since I first heard it earlier this year.

  5. […] see a friend, students or even a stranger who is digitally reaching out for help. Very recently a blog posting was brought to my […]

  6. […] is not the first tragedy of its kind.  A friend recently posted about a similar situation on his blog, reminding us that we need to remember to humanize our social […]

  7. […] I posted a blog on this tragic story. Now, I return after seeing for myself this tragic story unfold. Frankly, if I were to write that […]

  8. […] Listening to Social Media: Why we must improve  by GunnarSpeaks […]

  9. […] I have been discussing in my blog posts about listening to social media and not only why we must improve, but why we must […]

  10. […] talking to fans with their message and interacting with participants, they are also doing so by listening to what fans are saying […]

  11. Tory says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t
    know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  12. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am
    experiencing problems with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    • @gunnarsimonsen says:

      thanks for the post. This is actually the first I had heard of an RSS issue. I run mine pretty hands free through the wordpress.com site. Let me see. When you sign up with email, does that work?

  13. One of the negative sides to social media is that it has magnified narcism. It’s transparency without responsibility which is very sad. You said, “Now I am not placing blame on you, me, or anyone else. I am not even wanting to play the guilt card.” I disagree. I think we need to take the blame and feel a little shame. If we don’t feel responsible we won’t change.

    Many of us have heard the saying, ” Nothing happens until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.” A healthy dose of shame and disappointment in our lack of action may just be enough pain to change how we look at social media. There is world filled with hurting people and many of them share some portion of their brokenness online regularly. For many of us, it’s time to mature in regards to our social spaces. We need to stop using these sites as digital mirrors and start reengaging with the world around us.

    Gunnar – thank you for sharing this story and for stirring the thought pool.

    • @gunnarsimonsen says:

      First off, thanks for taking a moment to drop by and read this post. I really appreciate your words in this comment. You know, since I first wrote this post last year, I would have to say that yes, we all should feel a little shame in this. I know this has altered how I use social media tremendously. So, thank you for saying what you did. I do agree. I have written a few more follow ups to this, but may now consider writing this blog post through the lens of how I feel and know now versus then. G!

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