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Lara Kretler’s blog Columbus Ohio

Social Media as Lost and Found

October 31st, 2009 · 14 Comments

Lost and FoundImagine this scenario: you drop or misplace your phone and despite re-tracing your steps repeatedly, you cannot find it. You’re home alone for the weekend. And, as icing on the cake, you made the “smart” move some time ago to get rid of your land line. Totally phoneless!

This happened to me yesterday after work and for three hours I panicked, feeling isolated and cut off. I couldn’t pick up a phone to dial my cell and hope that a good Samaritan would pick up and tell me where it is. I couldn’t call a friend and ask them to help. Talk about feeling like a little lost soul; I was E.T. the Extraterrestrial longing to phone home! Literally, my only link to the outside world was social media. But what a link it is.

I thought about using Twitter for the immediacy factor, but I don’t truly know everyone who follows me on Twitter. So instead, I posted about my dilemma to Facebook, where I still don’t know everyone personally but I definitely know the lion’s share of my network. My desperate status update read:

I either misplaced or dropped my cell phone right at the end of the day. Not cool – especially since we got rid of our home phone. Feeling very isolated! :P

Anxiously, I waited to see who might respond. Several people did right away, and they seemed sympathetic enough for me to quickly post my cell phone # and ask if anyone would consider calling it to see who answered. Ultimately, I believe in the innate goodness of people – I hoped that if someone in my social network could connect with the phone-finder, we’d be able to work something out.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened! Jim, the husband of a friend I haven’t seen in years, called my cell and asked the person who answered where and who he was. Jim, also communicating with me in real-time through Facebook Chat, then let the phone-finder know that I’d be coming by within 15 minutes to pick up my phone. It was that easy! I raced over to Easton Town Center, where I work. Turns out I dropped the phone on the stairwell without noticing, and it was picked up immediately by a member of  the cleaning crew – that’s why I didn’t see it when I desperately re-traced my steps.

When I got back to my office building after 8 p.m. that night, I found the gentleman who had my phone without too much trouble. He’s an older guy I see most evenings but I’ve never appreciated him more than I did last night. I thanked him profusely as he handed me the phone. He sheepishly admitted that he thought about keeping it, saying “it’s nicer than my phone, plus you have really great ringtones!” I asked if he would mind me giving him $20 to thank him, and his face lit up. Then we hugged each other and I had the feeling I’d made his night just as he had made mine.

So many lessons for me here. For one, keep that forgetful, ditsy “pregnancy brain” in check by securing all valuables before rushing out of the office. For another, cherish and treasure the cleaning crew at the office, because they are very likely the first people who will find something if you lose it. Third, keep believing in the innate goodness of people and the universe because the more I trust in that, the more I’m blessed beyond measure. And fourth – social media rocks! Take good care of your network and they’ll take care of you.

Social media really can save you if you let it – sometimes all you have to do is ask the right question.

So what about you – what would you do if you lost your phone? Any good stories to share about the power of social media or the innate goodness of people?

Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews

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Tags: Networking · social media

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Joanne Maly // Oct 31, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I love the human-ness of your blog today, and it is very real to me as my cell phone seems to be the most elusive thing I own.

    The crazier piece though is when I have turned the phone off or adjusted it to the vibrate mode – then lose it – and can’t hear it if I’m calling it. And I am just plain ‘sunk.’ I know that panic feeling you have described.

    And the result of my dilemma, you ask?
    The Verizon store knows me by my first name.

    Thanks for my morning chuckle.

  • 2 Lara K // Oct 31, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Thanks, Joanne – glad to know I’m not the only one! ;)

  • 3 Natalyn Giverson // Oct 31, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I would do the same thing in your scenario, Lara. I’ve used Facebook as my mode of access to the world when my phone battery has simply died and I don’t have my charger with me.

    For example, I realized I needed my wallet out of my roommate’s car before she left for the weekend, but my phone was dead and I was on campus for the day. I dropped into the library and quickly sent her a Facebook message between classes, knowing she would check it. By the time I got home later that afternoon, my wallet was sitting on the table waiting for me.

    I think another example of how Facebook saves the day is the multitude of groups people create to re-collect phone numbers after they’ve gotten a new phone. I get at least four invites a week to groups with names like, “Dropped my phone in the sink, need numbers!” or “Lost my phone, leave your digits!” I made one once myself after my phone got run over by a car (it’s a long story). The beauty of the Internet is that it doesn’t break.

    Thanks for a good, thought-provoking read! I’m glad things worked out in your favor. :-)

  • 4 Erin Oates // Oct 31, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Love this story because of how it connects both the ‘new’ (social media) with the ‘old’ (the help of good-hearted people who choose to do the right thing). A perfect example of how we need both and a wonderful reminder that everyone, whether they’re a member of the cleaning crew or a senior executive, need acknowledgment and how that powerful human connection can make their day!

  • 5 Lara K // Oct 31, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks, Natalyn and Erin – great additions.

    Erin, I love your read on how this experience connected both social media/technology and real-time human connections. So true – and they really are best together, just like chocolate and peanut butter!

  • 6 Erin Oates // Oct 31, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Lara, well put! And I think the old and the new are at their most powerful when interconnected, as you said, given the technologically driven world in which we live. The more tech-driven our world is, however, the more we crave human connection. Your experience perfectly blended both.

  • 7 Meghann Heft // Nov 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Great post, Lara! I heard your speak at SummitUp, and I’m not sure what I would’ve done in your situation. It’s so nice to read about the goodness of people :)

  • 8 Rachel Esterline // Nov 5, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Great story, Lara. I’ve lost my cell phone several times as well. Two examples of good people:

    1. Once in the snow on campus. The guy called my mom and then he tracked me down since my driver’s license and student ID were both with my phone. I seriously cried when I opened the door and saw him there with my phone.

    2. The second time in the Walmart parking lot. Someone turned it into the front desk and I picked it up as soon as I realized it was gone.

    Another example of even better people: I left my necklace in a tanning room once. A gold/diamond necklace from my boyfriend. My heart dropped once I realized it was still there. I had to wait until morning to call them. The staff had immediately saved it and had it waiting for me that morning.

    Cell phones are replaceable…but the first piece of jewelry from my boyfriend – - not so much! I didn’t get any sleep that night because I had no idea how I could tell him I had lost it if they didn’t have it waiting for me.

    And I agree…social media definitely rocks. So do good people :-)

  • 9 Lara Kretler // Nov 8, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Thanks, Meghann and Rachel.
    We all read bad news all the time – it’s great to hear about positive news and stories with happy endings!

  • 10 Viruthagiri // Jul 27, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Nice blog you have here. And also interesting posts. Thank you dude

  • 11 summer // Mar 19, 2012 at 1:38 am

    this social media lost article is so amazing because all are using social media networks it is last means how affect will come means i understand from this article….

  • 12 james // Mar 31, 2012 at 3:43 am


    nice post here, i accept your view on social media, i am also not believe a day without facebook or twitter. thanks for your post. have a great day.

  • 13 Tom - cypress iphone repair // Jul 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Nicely written and entertaining. I like the use of E.T. to compare with your now former situation. I’d react the same way whenever I lose my phone; panic. Luckily, someone managed to find your phone, and I’m glad it was found.

  • 14 Warren Whitlock // May 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    I missed this when if first came out.. just the kind of story I was looking for when we wrote “Profitable Social Media”

    Wondering if you still fee the same way as you did the day you need a phone?

    What has replaced blogging for you?

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