The role of social media played in the shooting of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward is being hotly debated in the wake of their horrifying deaths at the hands of a tragically violent former co-worker, but the aftermath highlights something far longer lasting: Parker’s photo album.
Parker created the photo album to celebrate the six-month anniversary of dating her boyfriend, Chris Hurst, who was interviewed today by ABC News’ anchor Robin Roberts.
“It brings me innumerable comfort,” said Hurst, clutching the book, when Roberts said, “I hope that book brings you some source of comfort.”
So much comfort, it can’t be counted.
A book. A simple book of happy photos created lovingly by the woman he adored.
I conclude my lectures about the ABCs of photo organization with a story of a similar album–one made by my sister for my brother’s 25th birthday. He died a year and a half after that birthday, and now nearly 19 years later, that simple little book still remains in a place of honor on my parents’ coffee table.
Tweets, Facebook feeds, news video and other social media standbys can go viral, reach hundreds of thousands of people in seconds, as the WDBJ7 tragedy showed. But photographs in that album Parker made and the words she wrote will be around so much longer than all those ephemeral electronic images.
Besides sharing our sympathy for all the people touched by this tragedy, we can learn two lessons about the value of memories from this shocking event:
- Photo albums bring a great deal of happiness to the people for whom we make them, and — when death comes, as it always does at some point — those albums can bring immeasurable comfort. Don’t let a social media site be the only place you share important memories with special people. Choose a more concrete option.
- It’s never too soon to create a photo album for or about someone we love. Parker was only 24, and she should not die at that age, but she did. Do not delay.