Facebook is many things to many people. It can be used for good or evil, like to stalk your ex-boyfriend, post links to articles or videos that will “blow your mind” and you can “like” things you really really like or oddly, you really really don’t like or understand. It can even be used to promote your writing blog. I struggle; I don’t know exactly how I feel about the Facebooks. I am torn. Do I love Facebook? Do I hate Facebook? Do I look at Facebook multiple times a day? Yes, yes, YES! I’ve also decided to break up with Facebook twice as many times as I’ve attempted to quit this writing group (if you were to read my last blog post, that’s about 12 attempts at breaking up with Facebook). Early February, I was in the process of shutting it down when I learned something new on Facebook.
You see, dear readers, something happened. Yes, my fellow Facebook readers of articles, blogs, posts, comments, lies, threats, pictures of puppies, and lists of reasons why “insert name” is having the worst day ever, something horrible happened. I learned that a friend of mine is sick, and he is going to die. He is going to die soon, and there is nothing we can do about it.
His illness and experience are something left for a blog that he might write, so I won’t go into the details on his story. However, his caregiver and girlfriend/partner has been posting all the struggles of their journey. From the emergency room visit to the troubles with the insurance companies and a little bit of everything in between, I have learned of Ted’s illness and the ups and downs that have come along with it all through Facebook. I have been given a connection to this tragedy. I’ve learned we need to come visit soon or not at all. I’ve watched Ted’s face and body change in the photos that have been shared. I’ve even learned where to donate, all via Facebook. This forces me to question a few things. Ted lives in Florida. I don’t talk to him often and he’s far away. Would I have learned so quickly of his cancer had I not been on Facebook? Would I truly understand the gravity of his situation? Would I know how to help or where to donate? Eventually, I would have run into someone here in Chicago who knew he was sick, but would it have been too late? All of this makes me so glad I didn’t leave Facebook, but still I have a problem.
At first, I commented back, “Please tell Ted we love him!” Then I donated to his page (via Facebook), and then I read and watched. Although, I had this connection to Ted’s story, I was doing nothing to connect to Ted in a real way. That’s the rub with Facebook. It does allow you to support your friends in times of need or share important events in your life. However, it becomes a replacement for real communication, hugs, kind words, or a visit. I kept talking to my friend who is friends with Ted too. We kept talking about how sad it was, how we should go visit. Yet, we just kept watching things happen and “liking” them or sending a heart icon comment.
So that’s that. Although a good first step, I’ve decided reading and commenting is really not enough. Facebook is many things to many people, and it connects me to friends in a positive way, but I can’t use it as a substitute to real human connection. So, to you, my dear friend Ted, I am coming to see you, to hug you, and to tell you I love you. Our friendship is real and life isn’t Facebook; you don’t always get to make edits or unlike something before it’s too late. And to you, my dear readers, I will see you soon on the Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams, Blogs or puppy links, and I love you too…now go like someone for real.