Technology is so much fun
On April 3, 1994, Heidi M Allen, disappeared from the D & W Convenience Store on the corner of State Routes 104 104b in the small town of New Haven, New York. It's been 7,501 days since our family knew where Heidi is and the same amount of time we haven't given up hope.
Hope, waiting, and love are the constant and unchanging while we pray for Heidi's return. One thing is very different today than twenty years, six months, and thirteen days ago...technology.
How many of you remember the first cellular phone? It was in a big bag, not small enough to fit in your back pocket or pencil case. The first computers, if you were lucky enough to have one, were bigger than the average desk and most likely, NOT connected to the Internet.
Don't get me wrong, your encouragement, outreach, and love is one of the things that helps us get through the toughest of days yet in the midst of it all, it can be a challenge to keep it together emotionally when so many extend such love and kindness. I shared this with a friend and she said, "It's okay to cry Lisa when someone asks how you are doing. It isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of being human." Man, I am VERY human.
As I thought about being human and the difference, this is when I realized, some of the "news" reports with play by plays each hour weren't different than coverage twenty years ago. Reporters were at the Command Center around the clock, just like Heidi's family, friends, and community.
The reporters would leave in enough time to make it back to Syracuse for the news hour, journalists would stay until the last possible moment and then return to the office to write their story for that evening's print, and some spent the extra expense to broadcast from location but the majority were only running their stories in the morning, at Noon, or in the evening. Newspapers had their stories for the morning and evening editions. There wasn't instant access to the news, everyone waited.
With today's technological advances, both print and on-air media were able to broadcast, post, and report at any given moment throughout the day. This makes it easier for those of us waiting for news yet at times, lacks compassion because while families and others involved are waiting, sometimes we had to hear about it while getting groceries, rather than from the investigating teams.
Like the instance with the missing girl earlier this month, I was grateful but in July and August as our family was directly linked to the lead news story, it was a challenge. At one point, a new story was posting almost on the hour, and so many of us "follow" our favorite television news station or newspaper, the "Update" or "Breaking News" sound would beep.
One day as I stood in the check out line, it sounded like a band playing as everyone's phones started to bing, beep, and sound because of the different ring tones set and the different agencies offering an update. I looked at my husband and said, "Do you think?" and before he could answer, people were talking about Heidi's case. I attempted to scan the last of our groceries at the self-check-out but started to shake so bad, Ed had to finish. Mags started bagging and I just tried to unlock my phone to call my parents. In 1994, with the exception of a little check-out line gossip, I could slip in and out and pick up the necessary items but in today's instant access news...it's like rolling the dice.
Twenty years ago we didn't know what everyone was thinking or the sideline commentaries. I honestly never thought about it until this summer. I'm sure the same type of conversations occurred twenty plus years ago, our family just didn't have to "happen" across them while on Facebook or when someone shares a news article online.
I think one of the benefits of having to wait for print news, it limits one's ability to comment before thinking or sharing things that are meant only to be expressed in the presence of your closest friends and family. Not everything is meant for social media, this applies to all areas of life, not just news reporting.
I'm an Internet, Social Media, and communicate online person myself with an equal amounts of dings, beeps, and notifications going off on my phone throughout the day. The difference between our family and most of yours, we've experienced both sides of the beep. When I hear the notification ding, I ask, "Is it about Heidi? or is it something else?"
Life and the news aren't all about Heidi M Allen, or her kidnapping. The top news stories are just that, the top story of the day. For a couple months, Heidi's case was in the top and today, someone or something else holds that spot. I'm thankful for the reprieve of the spotlight and pray for the next bout of attention.