When Statistics Have Faces

I’ve had my heart stirred in very unexpected ways this week. I’m used to having my mind moved – I often gravitate toward ideas, facts, and numbers.

But sometimes you’re confronted with human faces, and the statistics fade into obscurity, where they often belong.

JamieAs with many others in the social media community, I was profoundly moved this week by the tragic death of a young mother (Jamie Loveless) who died of multiple organ failure after pneumonia triggered, most likely, by the H1N1 virus. Please read the story here. I’m a husband and a parent, and I cannot even imagine the agony of this family. Over the months, as the H1N1 clamor increased, I’ve had my share of commentary on the over-hype of the thing…but now it doesn’t seem so harmless or abstract any more. And certainly not funny. This virus has a face now – Jamie’s face. And it’s heartbreaking.

Also, this week, I attended an ePatient Connection conference. One of the reasons I really enjoyed this event was that I had real-life contact with very real, very human patient bloggers – human beings with names and faces who were not mere statistics or users of products, but people just like you and me. And I learned from them something very stirring and unexpected – disease guilt. How those with even manageable diseases are often haunted by an ongoing sense of guilt for not being “normal.” I awakened to the fact that these very real people with faces and names were undergoing very real emotional turmoil because of conditions that, in many cases, they never had a choice to contract. How easy it has been to simply view patients as…numbers. No more, I hope.

I think this is one of the reasons I’ve always hated the term “consumer” – it feels so depersonalized, so statistical. We’re not mere consumers. We’re us. People.

Marketing, and life, and networks, are all about humanity. With faces, names, and souls. And sometimes, very deep sorrows.


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

5 Responses to When Statistics Have Faces

  1. Pingback: Impactiviti Daily 103009 « Impactiviti blog

  2. I have had the opportunity to speak to a number of breast cancer survivors. Many of these brave ladies experience guilt at some point. Why did they survive and a friend or relative did not? And to make matters worse, some feel guilty even mentioning it to someone for fear that they will seem ungrateful for their treatment success. Emotional support, not just chemo and radiation, plays an important role in a successful outcome. Most likely true in any disease.

  3. Ken Burbary says:

    Steve, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ll never look at h1n1 again the same, and want to give a sincere thanks for this thoughtful piece, and your efforts in helping spread the word about Jamie’s situation.

  4. @Redlincook says:

    Very well put post! I know that for many people in this industry, when on social networks all day or in marketing in general it can be really easy to forget that behind all of those avatars there is actually a living and breathing person. This story really hit a heart string with me, and I commend you for taking the time to spread the word about this situation!

  5. Seems like you are a true pro. Did ya study about the subject? hehe

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