Social media is great for keeping in touch with friends and family, but it can also act as a useful memory aid if you need to sort out when events happened in a timeline.
About a month ago, I got a new member of my family. But unlike a newborn infant or delightfully furry puppy, this was a somewhat unexpected and unwanted guest. To be specific, a gum tree that was previously residing in my back yard decided in the recent Sydney storms that it would very much like to come to rest in my bedroom. Cue serious damage, serious stress and, naturally enough, a call to my insurers, NRMA.
So far, so good, but from then, all sorts of mistakes were made in terms of processing my claim and appointing people to come and fix up the problems that ensued. For a little while I allowed this to go on, because I couldn't deny that the storms were severe and that a lot of people were simultaneously affected. But the ball on my particular case was dropped by the NRMA and its appointed agent companies not once, but multiple times.
I missed freelance work to make appointments that its agents failed to appear at, spent countless hours in hold queues and had the appointed builders finally realise that they weren't up for the task and come up with a rubbish excuse to back out, putting me back at the end of the list in terms of available builders to fix my problems — through no fault of my own.
So I decided to take the NRMA head on, and put a formal complaint in to the relevant industry body, which in this case is the Financial Ombudsman Service.
There was just one small problem: while I could easily recall the sequence of events, putting them into a timeline was a little trickier, because I hadn't taken date-based notes as matters unfolded. I was somewhat busy and stressed at the time, but I needed a solution that would match up to close scrutiny.
The solution came from an unexpected quarter, namely Facebook. While I hadn't kept a detailed timeline (I am doing that now), I had noted on Facebook everything that had happened in order to keep family and friends updated.
Alright, I'm only human. I also whinged a bit from time to time.
The value here, however, is that it gave me an archived timeline of when I'd written those posts, and from those posts, a detailed timeline of events could easily be built. I didn't plan my Facebook posts that way, but they've proved invaluable in building up a more detailed document of my recent dealings.
Oddly enough, mentioning that a complaint was heading towards the ombudsman also seems to have got the NRMA moving in the right direction, although that's still a work in progress.
tl;dr version: Don't forget to mine your social media for timeline data, because it may be more useful than you think.