1 December 2012

when facebook friends leave us

Despite using it every day, I remain terribly ambivalent about Facebook. I don't like the way it takes me into other people's lives, where I may not have chosen to go. It has linked me with people I will never meet. Just occasionally something happens that reminds me how strangely remote yet touching these Facebook friendships can be.

I have made several "friends" through art on FB and feel that I know some of them quite well. Others I really don't know other than through the images of their paintings. This week one of my FB friends died, in hospital, surrounded by her family.

We have been FB friends since 2010 I think. I really didn't know her, although she appears to have been a gentle and kind person. I simply don't check many individual pages, but simply respond to what happens to be passing on my news feed when I am at the computer. I don't know if she ever checked my page. It feels wrong, somehow, to even consider going to her page now, looking back to see what notices I might have missed over the last two years.

We may have met in the Waikato a few years ago, I was never quite sure. I think that we probably did, her name and her photograph were very familiar. But as FB friends, which we became at her request, we had never exchanged personal messages, nor had we commented on one another's posts. However, we were both Waikato artists, and we were not so different in age.

This evening FB tells me that it is her birthday this week.  I didn't know that. She would have been 66 in a few days. Well over two hundred people, her Facebook friends, will be getting this same birthday reminder. It wouldn't surprise me if many of them don't know that her funeral was held in Te Kowhai this morning. If, as I sometimes do, they sleepily write their greeting as FB prompts them to, without going to her page, they still wont know.

We talk about everyone being connected, everyone in the world being no more than 6 links away from everyone else (six degrees of separation). But instead of reducing those degrees of separation, increasing connections, does FB sometimes disconnect? Do we write less instead of more, chat instead of talk? And do we rely on FB to tell us when our friends have left us?

And, when their pages continue, a place for memories and condolences, how can we bring ourselves to "un-friend" the friend that we didn't, in all honesty, even really know?

I think I shall spend less time on FB, and more time writing longer emails and visiting people in their homes. But there are one or two people I need to stay in touch with, for their sakes and mine. And FB is how it happens.  However, if you think that I am keeping up to date with your news simply because we are Facebook friends, then I have to tell you that it is not at all likely. Email me, maybe. I'm not so hard to find.

Today I am grateful for intuition.

1 comment:

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I was moved by this post today, Facebook is indeed not good for us but it has become a crutch we need, or do we?