Category Archives: Social Media

Can you survive an hour without wifi? A test.

I had time to kill in Manhattan last week between work and dinner with friends. That hour or so turned into an interesting experiment that shed light on where I am on the scale of phone addiction.

iPhoneIt was one of those amazing unseasonably warm evenings we’ve been having here in the Tri-State area (thanks global warming) and I was on the Upper West Side and had to get to east Midtown so I decided to take a subway and walk.

There was no cell service in the subway and it’s awkward to read your phone while walking, especially in New York, where you can run into a street sign, construction zone, or really pissed off person in a hurry if you aren’t looking where you’re going. I forgot my headphones so listening to music or a podcast was not an option.

So for about an hour I didn’t look at my phone. No big deal, right?

Have you done it recently? Have you been out and about — not at work or in a movie or exercising or distracted by life at home– but out in the world during prime texting/emailing time and not felt compelled to look at your smart device?

It’s probably more difficult than you think.

I consider myself a thoughtful, balanced person who knows that I should not be sucked into screen time and should live in the moment and enjoy what’s going on around me. I’m constantly scolding my boys for excessive screen time. “Your mind will turn to mush if you watch one more episode of Hawaii 5-0!!” I yell emphatically. “No phones at the dinner table!”

cell phone ban graphic/ carpoolcandy.com

But there I was walking up Broadway holding my handbag on one arm and clutching my iPhone for dear life in the other, willing myself not to look at it. Once I sensed my anxiety, I started to become acutely aware of the temptation to check for a new text or email, or to scroll through Facebook or Twitter.

Then it became a game. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need to check my phone as I walked through the crowded streets during rush hour. I could use the time to think.

Remember free thinking?

I often find I come up with some of my best ideas while in the shower. That 10-12 minutes of warm water and meditative sounds provide clarity. I remember things for my to-do list, generate story ideas for articles or blogs, and even work through tough writing tasks for ongoing projects.

But in the shower I have no choice. Looking at my phone is not an option.

On the street, I started to feel restless. I was surprised and a little embarrassed as I realized my co-dependence on that small screen in my palm. I forced myself to use the time to look around, take in the people-watching– no place better than New York for that– and see where my thoughts would lead me.

It was a humbling exercise.

When did I turn into such an information addict? I know intellectually that so much of my attention spent online is wasted.

Social Media Relationship Rules

Social media sucks me in the way TV consumed me when I had more time to watch it. I’m a pop culture and news junkie, and I’m interested in people so I find it all impossible to resist.

But there’s something to be said for being with your thoughts. I know I’m not allowing myself that luxury enough. Are you?

 

#BlogHer15: Connecting on many levels

You may wonder why we bloggers do what we do. Why do we toil in the wee hours of morning and night to match just the right photo to carefully chosen words? Why do we share some of our most intimate and/or humiliating moments? Why put ourselves out there to be judged, or worse, ignored?

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Chew, Smiles, and Candy taking time to smell the roses.

I spent last weekend attending BlogHer15— the world’s largest conference for women content creators on social media — and was reminded why we blog.

Only a few of the thousands of bloggers in attendance have hit it big. Winning the blogging lottery can mean different things: building a brand, monetizing with ads, scoring a book deal… but all any of us really want is to be heard.

We want more people to read and engage in our passion subjects.

That’s my takeaway from an amazing weekend of listening to inspiring speakers, meeting real and virtual friends, and taking notes at professional breakout sessions.

The blog is not the thing. Connecting is the thing.

This was my third time at BlogHer and it certainly was the charm. Year one in NYC, I was a clueless rookie, obsessively consulting my session schedule and terrified of missing any events, speakers, or blogging advice. I was all business and just a little fun and I knew like two gals.

Year 2 was in Chicago. I went alone and tried to soak in the experience, but found it difficult to meet people (I’m more shy than you’d think in enormous crowds) and spent evenings with high school friends instead of bloggers.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

We got lots of free stuff at the Expo this year. Here we are trying new Coke Life with Stevia. (I liked it!)

But this year, I had a writer posse and it made all the difference. I convinced my virtual friend Christine of the popular and perfectly seasoned food blog ChewNibbleNosh.com to hop on a plane from Indianapolis to be my partner in crime for the weekend.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Much deserved late night snacks at Eataly with the gals

I also strongly encouraged my local friend Jesse, who writes beautifully about family life with a special child at SmilesandDuctTape.com to take the plunge at her first blogging conference. At BlogHer13 in Chicago, I made only two new friends: the always honest and funny Amy of AMyNameisAmy.com–who writes about parenting, divorce, pop culture and being a bossassbitch— and Emily who makes food and her kids sound equally delicious on Em-i-Lis.com. Both those ladies were back for more in NYC this year, and Amy’s hotel roommate, Stacey, who’s OneFunnyMotha was kind enough to put up with us too.

Whether newbies or veterans, we were all a bit wary, wondering what the energy of the conference would be like, and whether it was worth the hassle it requires to leave your family, jobs, and responsibilities back home for several days.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Blogger friends for life bonding at dinner

But over several glasses of wine at dinner Saturday night, we agreed it was the best decision we’d made in a long while.

It’s intimidating to walk into an enormous ballroom and find a place at the table– as it were. I’ve found that no matter how many page views you have, everyone wonders if they belong.

BlogHer15 NYC on carpoolcandy.com

But the nurturing environment helped us get comfortable and when we weren’t focused on speakers or mechanics, we laughed a lot. It’s funny how close you can get to people in such a short time when you share this kind of intense experience.

Soledad OBrien at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Journalist Soledad O’Brien kicked off the event, talking about her Starfish Foundation, which chooses dozens of girls (who could not otherwise afford college) to financially, emotionally and professionally support through school and career building.

We were inspired to act, to dream, to push ourselves and those around us.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers and the ultimate success story, Jen Mann of PeopleIWanttoPunchintheThroat.com

There’s something kind of magical about being in a safe space with creative women peers. And with some, you know their online voices so there’s an immediate familiarity.

Gwyneth Paltrow at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

So safe in fact, that the embattled Gwyneth Paltrow could wow the crowd during her lunchtime talk. Looking tan and svelte and appropriately fashionable, the actress and goop.com founder talked about everything from building a brand to raising kids in the midst of a high-profile divorce.

Paltrow has been under fire for several comments in the media that made her sound entitled and out of touch with regular folk. She addressed her bad press in an evolved, thoughtful way and came across as relaxed,, intelligent and even funny– quieting many of the haters in the crowd.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

“If I read something that stings it’s usually because I’ve held that judgment against myself. So I unpack that and work through it,” she told the attentive audience.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

I went to a few amazing breakout sessions to learn more tricks of the trade. I took notes like I was back in college about humor writing, building a brand on social media, and time management. Each session provided at least one nugget of wisdom or spark.

Here are a few I gathered:

–“We women are so hard on ourselves. Make realistic goals. Don’t should all over yourself,” Danielle Faust on time management

–“Ideas aren’t unique, your voice is,”  Sarah Maizes on humor writing.

–“Readers don’t want to know the most recent thing you said, they want to know the best thing you said,”–Jessica Woodbury on best SEO practices and setting up a blog home page.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Breakout session on SEO

The last two speakers on Saturday evening had great impact on the thousands of attendees. First up was media executive and motivational speaker Tenishia Jackson-Warner who encouraged us to stretch ourselves. “Don’t just follow your dreams, chase them!” she told the eager crowd. Get out of your comfort zone, do things that scare you, be persistent, defy rejection, and don’t give up. Her words made my heart leap into my throat and lingered in my head for days.

I have one particular project I’ve been avoiding out of fear so here words hit a nerve.

Ava DuVernay at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Duvernay’s eloquence and confidence were infectious.

“Selma” director Ava Duvernay had us on the edge our seats as she spoke about diversity in filmmaking and empowering women in all fields.

“Women have been trained to ask for what we want instead of taking it. We’ve been indoctrinated in a culture of permission. It’s true for women and it’s true for people of color. But that time has passed,” she said about defining this moment in time with boldness.

The weekend was about connecting–to each other, to our industry, to the larger world– and going after what we want.

You don’t have to be a blogger to appreciate that.

Help me connect with more readers by sharing posts you like and signing up to receive my blog via email. Just scroll to the top of the page and click on “Follow” on the right side. See, now you’re stretching too! Thanks!

 

 

If you’re not listening to podcasts, you’re missing out

In the last few months, I’ve become slightly (and my family will tell you alarmingly) obsessed with listening to podcasts on my phone. When I try to talk to my contemporaries about them, most give me a puzzled look and wonder how I find the time.

The best part about listening to podcasts is that you don’t have to find time, they help you pass the time.podcast icon on carpoolcandy.com

I listen when walking the dog, walking home from the train station, and cleaning up the house. I used to get so irritable when faced with unloading the dishwasher (the most banal, odious house tasks of all) or weeding ill-fitting clothes from my kids’ closets — but now I attack such chores with glee because I’m learning something while I work.

Most people in the pop-culture-know have heard of the smash podcast hit Serial on PBS. I listened to that crime story with my family on a few road trips and was fascinated, but there’s so much more out there. serial itunes logo on carpoolcandy.comWhat I like about the podcasts I’ve been listening to is they’re an uninterrupted hour-plus with a person or story that interests me and teaches me something. Whether it’s the common emotional experience I recognize in a story on The Moth, or Dustin Hoffman talking to Alec Baldwin about what it was like to film The Graduate, it’s all thought-provoking and often inspiring.

the moth podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

If you liked Serial, or you’re just intrigued by people and why they do the things they do, you’ll like the tales told on The Moth and This American Life. They run the gamut of topics and experiences, and hearing people’s voices whispering stories into your ears creates a compelling, intimate feeling.

This American Life podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

Then, my friend, Julie, recommended I listen to my writing hero Lena Dunham on actor/comedian Jeff Garlin’s podcast, By the Way, In Conversation. It sounds melodramatic to say it was life changing, right? Let’s just say I’ve been listening to an average of 3-4 podcasts a week ever since.

Discovering Garlin’s podcast was, perhaps, like anything amazing you try for the first time– salted caramel ice cream, riding a perfect wave in the ocean, sleeping at a fancy hotel– it’s so good, nothing else quite compares. I find Garlin extremely entertaining. He’s smart, irreverent, and curious about everything from life’s big questions (“Are you scared of death?”) to the mundane (“How many times a week do you do pilates?’)by the way podcast graphic on carpool candy.com

But he doesn’t suffer fools, and he’s not into promoting crap, so he only brings on guests he likes, either personally or respects professionally. He’s been in comedy for decades, from standup to TV, to movies so listening to him talk to his buddies like Conan O’Brien or Bob Odenkirk about the old days is like a master class in comedy. (Other great episodes include Larry DavidWill Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Judd Apatow.)

I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to every single By the Way available, and sadly Garlin stopped recording them to star in his TV comedy, The Goldbergs, so I had to move on. One great episode of BTW featured comedian and fellow podcaster, Marc Maron. Unofficially the grandaddy of podcasters, Maron’s WTF (yes, it stands for what you think) started back in 2009 in his garage.

WTF with Marc Maron podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

Maron still often broadcasts from his garage, hosting many comedians but also musicians, actors, and newsmakers. I started binge listening to WTF but found Maron a mixed bag.  He gets groovy guests (his podcast made news last week when President Obama spoke frankly about racism on his show, ) he’s naturally curious and asks digging questions. His disarming, self-deprecating nature allows guests to go deep.

But he’s extremely neurotic, sometimes seems to do very little research on his guests, and often spends the first 20 minutes on a personal rant about things not usually of interest to me. BUT, there have been several fascinating hours of conversation so if he has a guest I like, it’s usually a good listen. Slate named Maron’s two-part episode with his friend Louis CK the best podcast ever and I highly recommend it. The two used to be friends but jealousy and uneven success tangled their relationship over many years. It’s like being a fly on the wall in a really funny session of couple’s therapy.  For other great Maron episodes click here.

heres the thing alec baldwin podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

After picking through Maron’s list, I heard about Alec Baldwin’s online interviews on WNYC’s Here’s the Thing. Baldwin’s podcast has quickly become my favorite (after exhausting all the BTWs) because he’s an excellent interviewer and gets an impressive potpourri of guests, most of whom I’d love to interview myself. He’s an active listener, asks great follow ups, and he’s funny and deferential– not a side of him seen often in public.

Great gets like David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, and Dick Cavett tell Baldwin stories I haven’t heard before on every practiced talk show appearance. It’s interesting to hear two actors talking about their craft, but Baldwin also gets notables from the world of sports, politics, books, and media. I highly recommend his chats with Billy Joel,  John McEnroe, Sarah Jessica Parker, and  Jerry Seinfeld.  koppelman the moment podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

As a writer, I love hearing about how other writers and artists create. I’ve been on a recent bender soaking up Brian Koppleman’s The Moment podcasts, which focus on people who’ve done incredible things in their respective fields, and the time in their lives when everything changed and led to their ultimate success.

Koppelman– a successful screenwriter and producer– seems to be friends with everyone who’s anyone in movies, music, comedy, books, media, and even food on both coasts. He lures them in to his confessional recording booth to reflect on the dark moments that came before the spotlight, or the epiphany that drove them to achieve. While Koppelman has an exuberant tendency to talk over his guests, he hosts a richly diverse cast of characters who come ready to talk, no matter where he pushes them to go. I recommend his lively chats with Amy Schumer, Killer Mike, and Ellen Barkin.  

BS Report podcast logo on carpoolcandy.com

I’ve tried a few other podcasts, but none have kept my attention as much as the ones above. A few people recommended Bill Simmons’ BS Report on Grantland but now that he lost his deal with ESPN, his podcast has no home. If you like sports, you can still go back and listen to past guests. Simmons is a sharp guy and I enjoyed some of his interviews with celebrities. I’ll even admit getting sucked into a few episodes about the NBA– despite my lack of knowledge and interest– because he’s that good at what he does. I’m sure he’ll end up somewhere soon.

I’m presently hooked on all the above, but there’s always room for more, so please send suggestions my way in the comments. Happy listening!

Summer of the ice bucket

Last year around this time, I declared it was the Summer of the Rainbow Loom. In a matter of weeks, everywhere I turned, there were colorful rubber bracelets.

This year, it’s all about the #ALS ice bucket challenge.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge on carpoolcandy.com

It started with just a few posts here and there on social media but now it seems everyone’s got the ice fever. It’s reaching its peak this week for sure, but so far, I can’t resist clicking on any video that promises to show people getting doused. From my neighbor down the street to Lady Gaga, people all over the country are getting drenched in the name of charity.

Kudos to the geniuses who came up with this simple yet effective fundraising campaign. It’s worked so swimmingly, the ALS foundation has raised nearly $23 million! Last year in August, they raised about $22,000.

That’s alotta cold cash.

It’s also an amazing awareness campaign. I knew what ALS was only because it’s also called Lou Gehrig’s disease– after the famous baseball player who died from the condition– and my baseball-crazed boys knew his history.

The ALS website says: “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed (and eventually die.)”

It’s a cruel disease for both sufferers and the people who care for them.

But now there are literally millions of people talking about ALS, and inspired by the idea of doing good. I love that celebrities have gotten in on it. Here’s a link to some of the best celebrity soaks. I highly recommend Justin Timberlake (nothin bad about him in a wet t-shirt), Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Swift, who did group dumps. But Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner had the cutest one, with their daughters cackling in the background.

ben affleck jennifer garner #ALSIceBucketChallenge on carpoolcandy.com

It’s a social media success story.

I’ve read some negative pieces about the Challenge– claiming it’s a popularity contest, it’s taking attention away from other causes, it’s self-indulgent. I’m freezing out that soggy nonsense.

I love it!

I knew my time was coming as I watched the degrees of separation between me and the challenged get smaller and smaller in recent days. In the last 24 hours I was challenged by my friends Julie G., Holland G.,and Julie P.G.

There was no escaping my arctic assignment.

We prepared for the 30-second videos like we were on a Scorsese set. We set the ice-maker to make extra ice, made sure we had the proper spot to get the most effect, and argued over what to say.

I had a frigid friend in Aden who also got challenged today. Jacob was only too happy to do the dumping.

Aden went first. You can see his here.

My favorite part of Aden’s is watching the glee with which Jacob douses his brother. Watch it again just for the beaming older brother getting a free pass to torture his nemesis.

Then it was my turn as you can see here.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge on carpoolcandy.com

It aint pretty.

Who likes to see themselves on video, especially sopping wet??! But I’ve decided there should be no judgment when doing a good deed and spreading joy. And I’m sure watching me surprised by a waterfall to the head will amuse many.

I’ve seen scores of videos this week but can’t stop watching them. It’s 30 seconds of unscripted fun. When it’s your turn, you know what to expect but you’re still shocked.

And now I challenge MaryEllen Dawkins, Allison Levy, Shani Braffman, and Raquel Grosman. Ice, ice babies!!!

I’m sure this will all fade away in a week or two and we’ll put the ice bucket in the back of the closet….next to the rainbow loom.

But like any good trend, it’s fun while it lasts, right?

I’ve discovered podcasts, have you?

Last week, I was preparing to go for a run when I realized my iPod had no juice. I’ve been running for 25 years but I still can’t go far if I don’t have some distraction– a friend or music.  Hearing myself huffing and puffing makes me tired, and all I can think about is being done.

I was annoyed because I haven’t run much in months (thanks polar vortex) and I was motivated by the beautiful day. I started to look on my iPhone for Pandora or some radio app and saw my “podcasts” icon.

podcast icon on carpoolcandy.com

I’ve only listened to a podcast once. My savvy friend and pop culture maven Julie told me months ago to listen to a podcast called By the Way, hosted by the actor and comedian, Jeff Garlin. Garlin is best known for his role on Curb Your Enthusiasm and now stars in one of my favorite comedies, ABC’s The Goldbergs. 

Julie flagged it for me because Garlin had had a great talk with my hero Lena Dunham, the actress, writer, and producer of HBO’s Girls. The podcast is basically a recording of Garlin sitting on stage in front of an audience interviewing one person for at least an hour. It’s uncensored, seems mostly unedited, and because of Garlin, unpredictable.

I loved the Lena Dunham chat but after I listened to it, I forgot all about podcasts. I read books and magazines, watch too much TV, try (failing lately) to keep up with movies and spend too much time on social media. I didn’t think I needed to add another entertainment category to my already busy schedule.

By The Way on carpool candy.com

courtesy Earwolf Media

But there I was in my spandex pants with my running shoes double knotted, all hydrated and ready to go. So I scrolled through the By The Way interviews and picked Judd Apatow, the director, writer and producer of TV shows like Freaks and Geeks and Girls, and movies like the 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.

Apatow is wildly talented and accomplished, but also is about my age, Jewish and neurotic so he seems very familiar to me. A conversation with Garlin and Apatow sounded very promising.  I started running and within a few minutes I forgot I was pounding the pavement and felt like I was hanging out with two funny guys.

The discussion was completely engrossing. I even giggled out loud a few times, and wondered if people on the street thought I was nuts. Listening to people talking in your ears, and the natural progression of conversation on the show felt intimate.

The two are friends and have some shared experiences so that lends itself to easy rapport, but Garlin is a no-bullshit kind of guy, unafraid of offending people, especially celebrities. Like when he went on a hilarious rant about how much he hates director/producer Michael Bay (Transformers and Armageddon)  and refuses to see his movies.

by the way graphic on carpool candy.com

The guys were still chatting when I finished my run so I stretched and then cleaned my kitchen while listening to the end of the show, when Garlin takes questions from the audience. I didn’t want it to end. One guy asked when was the last time each of them had smoked pot. Their answers were very surprising.**

I’ve always had a fantasy of being friends with Apatow and his wife, actress Leslie Mann. They seem very cool and as normal as you can be in Hollywood. As my week went on, I kept thinking about that great conversation, as if we had all been pals at dinner together. When a friend asked if I had ever tried pilates, I answered no, but wanted to add, “But Jeff Garlin does it once a week!”

So now I’m obsessed with the idea of podcasts. (I know they’ve been around for 10 years but I’m a late bloomer when it comes to tech.) I realized it’s a great distraction on long walks with the dog and on my commute to the city.

But I’m such a newbie, I don’t know any good ones besides By the Way. 

I’m so behind on this so please enlighten me and recommend your favorite podcasts in the comments…… I’m listening.

**Apatow said he hasn’t smoked since college because he did it too much and hated the way it made him feel. Garlin also had not smoked in many years.

The desensitizing effect of a smart phone

I was walking from work to the train station in Manhattan last week when I passed the aftermath of a horrible car accident. Sixth Avenue was blocked off from 41st to 42nd, cops were everywhere, and ambulance sirens wailed in the background as they tried to get through rush hour traffic.

The street was marked with yellow tape and scores of people lined the sidewalks, gawking at an overturned car. It was a mangled black Cadillac SUV perched upside down on its dented roof right in front of Bryant Park.

NYC fatal crash photo on carpool candy.com

I heard onlookers saying the car was going too fast and hit a bus when it turned onto 6th. The news junkie in me instinctively whipped out my phone to take a photo. I was trying to get a good angle when I saw a stiff plastic bag hanging out of a back window.

There were murmurs among the crowd that there was a body inside the bag, and there could be other dead passengers in the wreckage. I found out later the driver was the only person in the car when it crashed, and the 44-year-old male victim had a heart attack and was pronounced dead at the hospital. (For more details on the crash click here.)

I later discovered that what we thought was a body was actually the airbags sticking out of the shattered car windows.  But even when we all believed we could be staring at as many as three dead bodies,  almost every person on the street was snapping pictures with a smart phone.

Why?

To have evidence when recounting the story to friends? To send to a news site? To post it on Reddit, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook?

As I stood there gaping at the grim scene, I felt sorry for the victim… and sorry for where we are as a culture. It’s difficult for some of us to experience life’s impactful moments these days without resisting the need to document and share them.

Was it the great emotional jolt of the moment? Or the “I was there when it happened” cache? Or the peer pressure to capture it because everyone else is?

I sheepishly walked away feeling guilt and regret for not being able to resist photographing someone else’s tragedy.

This is the age we live in.

Anyone younger than 25 won’t even question the impulse to record every moving moment, even if the moment itself is interrupted or sacrificed in order to capture it.

But for old fogies like me, it still feels unnatural and wrong.

Apparently not wrong enough. There I was, one of a hundred minions taking a picture. And here I am sharing it with you.

nyc fatal car crash on carpoolcandy.com

If I’m using the photo to make a point, is it acceptable? I’m not sure.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Amazing coincidence or divine intervention?

Last week, I wrote an opinion piece that was published on Foxnews.com about what Veterans Day means to me. And then something amazing happened.

Loyal Candy readers might recognize that the story was a reworked version of a blog post I wrote for Memorial Day about my father’s Navy service in Vietnam.

The piece was accompanied by a photo of the bracelet my father wore from 1967-1973 bearing the name of a POW shot down in Vietnam. He wore it until the man– Commander Robert Doremus– returned home. My father wrote a letter to Cdr. Doremus when he returned safely, telling him what wearing the bracelet meant to him and thanking him for his service and incredible sacrifice.

Vietnam POW bracelet on carpoolcandy.com

My father died in 1993 so I can’t ask him details about that time, or if he ever got a response from Cdr. Doremus.

I Googled Doremus, but there were several others who share his name, and I couldn’t determine where he lived or even if he was still alive. When I sent the piece to Fox News, I knew it would get thousands of views and secretly hoped his family would see it and be able to fill in some blanks.

That’s why I wasn’t completely surprised when I got a comment on my blog from Doremus’ daughter, Barbara, the day after the story appeared. A friend of hers had seen my story and posted the link on Facebook asking her if she was any relation to the name on the bracelet.

She made a comment on my blog (there was a link to my blog at the end of the Fox piece) and asked if we could get in touch. Within hours, we exchanged emails and became Facebook friends. It was surreal to look at her Facebook page and read the thread about finding the story and wanting to contact me.

We spoke on the phone a few days later and there was an immediate intimacy I wouldn’t normally feel with a stranger. But through social media, we had learned a little about each other’s lives, and we had this shared meaningful experience.

Turns out, Barbara’s dad is still alive and nearly 80 years old. She called to tell him about the story but he had not seen it and promised to look for it online.

His war story is even more fascinating than I knew. He was shot down and declared dead for more than a year. Then a photo of him surfaced and the military changed his status from KIA to POW. He was held in Vietnam for 8 years before returning home.

Cdr Robert Doremus on carpoolcandy.com

courtesy Barbara Doremus

I would love to know if he remembered my father’s letter or the bracelet. Thanks to the internet, I may find out.

Many on Barbara’s Facebook page read the story and said they got goosebumps.  “What a small world!” was a common refrain.

It’s actually a huge world, but the internet can make it shrink.

I often resent the intrusiveness of the web and criticize social media for the self-indulgence it encourages. But this story– and the speed with which we daughters connected– is a tale of technology-done-good.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. Coincidence that this all happened so close to the milestone? I’m not so sure.

Although she lives in Florida, Facebook will help me keep in touch with Barbara, and hopefully her father. Dad would have loved that.