We live in a world of technology, a world where landline phones have almost become as obsolete as the dinosaur, a world where cell phones, Smart phones, Android phones, and Touch Screen phones make it easy to reach someone with the touch of a button.
And then there is Social Media, an outlet not only for keeping tabs on your friends and loved ones, but also for staying in touch with people with whom you have less frequent contact, an outlet to let people know what is going on in your world and to find out what’s happening in theirs.
After I returned from the Memorial Dedication Services in May of 2011, I realized I was somewhat frustrated. There was so much to catch up on, and not enough time to do it. Contributing to my frustration was that knowledge that, in addition to the many wonderful and dear people who attended the services, there were many more who were unable to make it. So I thought, why not create a Facebook page for my Jonestown Family so we can keep in touch.
I have done just that. I sent a request to those who were already friends on my regular Facebook page to join the “JT Family” page so we could have a more private and intimate setting to keep in touch. The family has grown through the suggestions from other members, and as we continue to seek names of children and family members of our lost loved ones who may benefit from our support system. There are 46 members to date.
From its inception, the page has been used for the usual social media functions: posting a friendly “hello” to everyone; passing along birthday wishes; announcing the births of children and grandchildren; sharing picture; sending best wishes to someone who may be ill or having to undergo a medical procedure; finding mutual comfort after the passing of a dear friend or loved one. More specifically related to who we are, I always let people know when the jonestown report is available online, what the plans are for the annual services at Evergreen Cemetery and the get-togethers we always have at the same time, and what news about our larger community I might be able to pass along.
One example of this was the posting that came from Rikke Wettendorff, our Danish friend who has become part of our larger Temple family. Rikke posted through the “JT Family” page about Antony Arcusa from Port Kaituma, who emailed her about some books from the Jonestown library which had made their way into in the local school library. He has since donated the books to the California Historical Society.
Antony also visits the memorial at the Jonestown site – often having to hack his way through the brush to get to it – but he is happy to do it. He has made it his mission to keep the “Jonestown legacy” alive through his knowledge from the books he has read and remembering those he came in contact with when we were over in Jonestown. I am glad that the “JT Family” page exist so that Rikke was able to share this information with all of us.
The page has not been without its controversy. There are people who have posted political and social videos that everyone may not agree with, but I have advised everyone that the page is not intended to offend anyone. It is an open page, and everyone is entitled to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. If I do see something that I believe might be offensive – rather than merely challenging – then I will let that person know that type of post cannot be tolerated on the page. I remind them that the page does have rules, and that I have the power to delete them. I’ve also alerted those who do not wish to see posts they may find offensive, that they can simply set their privacy settings accordingly.
I have received lots of positive support from everyone in reference to starting the page, and I hope it continues to be a wonderful and positive outlet for us to continue sharing our world with each other. I am glad I had the opportunity to begin something so special.
If you would like to be a part of the “JT Family” page and you are on “Facebook” please email me at email@example.com and I will be more than happy to add you.
(Dawn Gardfrey was in Georgetown with her grandmother, Ruby Neal Johnson, on November 18. Her other articles in this edition of the jonestown report are The Loyalty of Johnny Moss Brown, My Friend, Sonje Regina Duncan, and Surviving November: My Life After Jonestown Moves Forward. Her previous articles are here.)