Last week I made a Facebook boo boo, or Faux Pas if you will, and I have been hearing about it from friends and family since then. Don’t let it happen to you! Here’s the story.
We were on “vacation,” having been forcefully sent out of our apartment so plumbers could fix septic issues (in the interim they ripped up our entire floor, changed all the piping, and got concrete dust on EVERYTHING). In any case, we went to this fantastic restaurant in Beit Shemesh (I won’t name it here b/c I love that place and it is unfortunate what happened next). Shana (my daughter) is highly allergic to dairy. The waitress, who only spoke Hebrew and thought Shana was adorable, asked if she could give her a piece of chocolate. We explained in Hebrew, three times, that Shana can’t have ANY dairy b/c she is allergic. The waitress assured us that it was semi-sweet chocolate with no dairy. Shana proceeded to eat the chocolate and seemed very happy (usually she reacts to dairy right away with hives and itching, but none of that happened here).
After a 20-minute drive back to our country cottage, Shana finished the chocolate. When we got inside she was having trouble breathing. She began to itch all over and started to swell up in the face with discoloration. In a panic we all jumped back into the car and I drove like a true Israeli (crazy for those who have never driven here) back to Beit Shemesh to the medical clinic there. Shana was experiencing toxic shock. I held her down while she thrashed and screamed so they could stick an IV in her arm. Then they rushed her to a big hospital in Jerusalem by ambulance. My wife went with her and I took our 10-month old, Gilad back to the cottage to pack our things. We were going back to Jerusalem to spend the night with Shana.
Side Bar: that same day my landlady called to inform us the plumbers would need an additional 10-days. She set us up in a short term rental right down the street from our apartment (gorgeous place – see the photo) and gave us her best for Shana. Thanks Rachel – you were awesome through this whole mess. Back to the story …
Gilad and I packed in a frenzy (well, I packed; he fell asleep). We then went home (to the gorgeous short term apartment), I gave him dinner, and put him to sleep. Shana would need to stay the night in the hospital b/c on the way to the hospital, the ambulance driver miscalculated the conversion of her weight from pounds to kilos and gave her too much adrenaline and steroids. At about 12am a friend came over to stay with Gilad, while I went to the hospital to relieve Esther (thanks Alf!).
When I finally got Shana to bed (at 2:30am) for some unknown reason I decided to check Facebook on my iPhone. We hadn’t had a phone in our cottage and been somewhat incommunicado with family and friends that week. After reading and replying to a few wall posts by friends, I typed this status update: “Sitting beside Shana’s hospital bed at 2:45am thanking G-d she’ll be alright. Finally got her to sleep an hour ago.” This would have been a completely fine update had anyone, including our parents, known what was going on. Not to mention the time difference in Jerusalem and NY put them at about 7:45pm, prime time for Facebook checking.
My cousin called my aunt asking what had happened to Shana. My aunt called my mom. My mom didn’t know, but my in laws had some idea b/c they had called Esther on her Jerusalem phone with a calling card earlier in the day, but hadn’t told my parents, and so on. The faux pas post generated 16 comments and many phone calls from concerned friends asking what happened. By the next day we started damage control by posting on Facebook what had happened. Also we got on the phone to family to tell them too. By Monday we were still getting calls, and my wife had to apologize many times for my lapse in judgment. I eventually posted: “Sorry to cause such a stir with this post – guess that’s what 2:45 am in the hospital with only an Israeli iPhone will do to you. Thanks for all your warm wishes. She’s fine now and bein her beautiful self.”
This calls to attention some Facebook etiquette. Don’t post alarming things without giving family and friends context first (duh!). It also raises an interesting point about communication: with real-time network updates at our fingertips the reach and effect our posts can have is magnified, especially if your profiles have many connections on them. While network posts can save time informing many people at once about news, in my case it wasted time as I had to speak to many different people personally to assure them everything was okay. Even posting the network update that she was okay, people wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth. I guess the same thing can be true of good news, a wedding, birthday, promotion, etc. that if you post on your network you’ll have a lot of people vying for your attention to congratulate you, but there was something that just stuck with this latest incident. We all know that you should be careful what you post, but the hospital episode made this rule of network engagement so much clearer for me.