Life and Death and Facebook

It’s a funny world we live in.  I’ve actually been trying for weeks to write a post about the death of a friend’s mother and how that affected me, but I haven’t been able to do it.  This past weekend I received news of another death; this time it was a friend from college.  Someone my age.  Who leaves behind a beautiful wife who was an even closer friend of mine.  It turns out this actually happened several months ago, but I hadn’t heard.

I found out Sunday through a Facebook post in which his wife referred to herself as a widow.  My first thought was that it felt like such a cold and impersonal way to find out.  At first I sort of just shook my head at the loss of personal connection in the modern world.  But then I asked myself how I would have found out if it weren’t for Facebook and I realized I probably wouldn’t have.  We were friends, but not close enough we would have kept in touch over the past ten years.  There’s a remote possibility I would have made an attempt to stay in touch with his wife, but I doubt it would have lasted.  As a military kid I tried to stay pen pals with a lot of my friends when they moved or I moved.  It rarely lasted more than a year.  I’m just not a good pen pal.  Maybe down the road I would have run into a mutual friend who would have broken the news.  But it could have very well been one of those things I just never would have known.

And I am glad I know.  It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, but I’m glad I have the chance to mourn him like I should.  I’m glad I have the chance to pray for his wife.  For all that’s annoying about it, I’m glad Facebook gave me that chance.

And I’m glad of this: This week Facebook also brought me news that two old friends had babies and another became engaged.  Once again, I probably never would have learned if it hadn’t been for Facebook.  And I’m glad the world had become a little smaller and well connected.

As for my departed friend, strangely enough I was talking about him on Friday.  I was with some friends talking about their first experiences firing a gun and they laughed about how people in movies are always holding them sideways and how easy it would be to injure your wrist that way.  My friend was in a production of Julius Caesar I directed and there was a scene where he had to enter holding a gun.  It was obvious he’d never held a real gun because he kept wanting to hold it sideways.  Other cast members lectured him on how wrong that was, but no matter what he kept insisting, “I like holding it this way!”  Friday night my friends and I laughed a lot over that story.  So that’s what I’m going to stay focused on.

Not how senseless it is that he was taken so soon.  Not how guilty I feel that we didn’t stay closer.  Not how unfathomable it is that his wife at age 28 is a widow.  I’m going to focus on the fact that one day ten years ago he made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt.  And I’m going to be glad that I have that memory.

Top 5 Reasons I Am Scared of/Hate Facebook

5)  I have never felt like I completely understood all the security settings.  They keep jacking around with the toggles and switches and when the stupid games and shit first started I was never sure what I was saying okay to.  Obviously, the fact that I tweet, and write posts like this says I’m not totally scared of having a web presence, but I am a little particular about how I control it–and until I’m 100% confident in the facebook system, I will remain scared of it.

4) It’s…busy.  There’s just so much STUFF going on when you log in.  Friend requests, friend suggestions, messages, wall posts, updates, Farm shit….where do you even start?!?!?  I log in, get overwhelmed, and wind up logging out just as  fast as I can.

3) People throw shit and poke me.  I’ve been beaned by gnomes, poked until I’m black and blue and for some reason people keep “giving” me virtual plants and animals.  WTF?  Nothing says, “we’re buddies” like assault with virtual weapons.

2) Every friggin person I love and loathe is there.  Relatives I haven’t laid eyes on since I was in kindergarten.  Classmates from my old high schools.  People from work.  Some of them it’s interesting to hear from, some of them I don’t care, and some of them I never wanted to think of again and would prefer to deny knowing.  And for a lot of them, I know they don’t want to reconnect–they want be creepy busy bodies who satisfy their voyeuristic tendencies by looking up people they used to know.

1) The number one thing I hate?  It’s expected.  There are people I literally cannot get a hold of any way BUT facebook.  This is a major piss off.  I’m stuck having to log into this crappy-ass system because their asses are too lazy to communicate via anything outside of facebook.  Would it kill your ass to write a fucking e-mail once in a while?

Another Rant on a Trivial Subject

I know, I’m full of rants lately.  Maybe it’s the heat?  I’d much rather bring the funny than the ranty, but the funny isn’t coming.  Sad.

Today’s rant is on Facebook posts.

Now not to sound snotty and superior, but I’ve been a facebook member since way back.  Ironically, it was Cammy who coerced me into joining.  Back in the day when it was just college students.  (We were both in grad school and didn’t know a whole lot of other college students).  This is ironic, because Cammy is now afraid of facebook.  Unlike Cammy, I still log in regularly.  But I use it to keep in touch with people and to feed my unfortunate voyeurism streak.  I do not play games, tend virtual farms or use it to support political causes.  I realize different people have different uses for facebook and they have every right to that.

But here’s what drives me absolutely nuts:  The number of rational, intelligent, educated adults I know who think nothing of reposting something just because they saw it on facebook.  Or joining a group just because it sounds good without actually looking into what it’s supporting.  Seriously people?  Back in the day when this particular brand of stupidity manifested in email forwards I spent a lot of time responding with Snopes links.  Now I’ve given up.  I just shake my head and weep for humanity.

Back when I used to teach English Composition to college freshmen I used to insist that they back up all their claims through hard evidence from legitimate sources.  Most of my friends have gone far beyond the level of college freshmen.  So why is it they are unable to live up to the standards I hold my students to?  Particularly in this day and age where researching such things can be done in a second.

The truth is, they could.  They just don’t see that their behavior is unacceptable.  Why should they have to do their own fact checking rather than having information spoon fed?   Google is a wonderful and simple tool people.  So is a brain.