Let’s be honest… social media can be a hateful space. Studies have shown that 15 percent of high school students were electronically bullied in 2013.* During the past couple of months, the presidential election also has made for a particularly caustic social sphere. So, when #PrayforPat started trending on Twitter yesterday, it gave users a moment of pause to remember that social media can also be very, very good.
The hashtag refers to Pat Summitt, legendary coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. She is the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, beloved by former players and the community at large. In 2011, she was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimers type at 64 years old. Coach Pat then finished out the 2011-2012 season and formed a foundation for Alzheimer’s research before retiring.
When news broke that Pat was in critical condition, Twitter responded with love for the great coach and a trending hashtag #PrayforPat.
So many people and organizations are sharing their respect and appreciation for Coach Summitt. Those of us who have been lucky enough to have a special coach or mentor immediately feel a connection to Pat and her story. And that’s what social media helps all of us do. Connect and feel with each other.
*The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.