I love Facebook. Since signing on a few years ago, I have met new people, hooked up with loads of old friends, laid some ancient squabbles to rest and scored invites to parties, political events, gallery showings and lectures.
My armchair voyeur side enjoys viewing pictures and perusing real time text depicting the diverse lives my friends and family lead. From reading one friend’s description of Japan’s meticulous recycle and trash laws to following scores of Cincinnati friends’ enthusiastic postings about the local college football team to friending and helping out a fellow journalist I admire, to keeping up with popular culture:
But there’s one wee kink I think Facebook has yet to iron out.
A few weeks ago, a pop up window appeared on my Home page suggesting I reconnect with a friend I haven’t communicated with for a while. Well..uh..there’s a reason for that. My friend died this year. But when I saw her photo surface on the right hand corner of the screen, I experienced a very surreal brain blip: “She’s alive!”
A super uncomfortable, conflicted state followed when the reality of the situation dawned.
If there’s no one to log a person off FB, does their profile live on forever?
A friend of another FB friend recently shared that when someone she knew committed suicide, that person’s FB friends continued posting on his wall as a means of transcendental communication. They hoped to reach him in the world beyond.
And when a person has, indeed, passed to that other realm, what of the phenomenon of discovering the news via FB? It is chilling to learn of death via a wall posting: “John Jones – 1955-2009″. The news of a person’s passing is a jolt even when it’s expected. But I have mixed feelings about the informal, public announcement aspect of receiving the news via The Wall. And experiencing someone’s real time agony as he/she publically anguishes over a loss is equally discomfiting.