Facebook Slapped Me in the Face


Ah, Facebook, you can be so cool and so cruel.  It seems that you may be losing your edge, Facebook, because the “new” kids are opting for different social media sites where their parents aren’t spying.  Yes, Facebook, your stock may fall to 5 cents when it’s just us old farts exchanging pictures of our grand kids.

This week has been a strange Facebook week for me.  It started out Sunday by spinning my head around when I received my “first-ever” wedding invitation via Facebook.  I know the “snail-mail” system is antiquated, but I must admit I always enjoyed the significance and beauty of a mailed wedding invite.  There were usually ribbons, bows, lace and frills and that was before you evened opened the inner envelope.  Then the engraved announcement where you read the names of the betrothed a couple of times because they looked weird with the middle names you had never seen before.  There was always a tiny little envelope enclosed where you had to send back the RSVP card, and sometimes pick chicken or fish.

This Facebook wedding invite was much easier, I admit, because you just hit “Like” and reply yeah, I’ll be coming to your wedding and also, since this is a potluck, this is the food I will be bringing along…no muss, no fuss.  But, no lace and frills or middle names either.

Monday evening was sadness on Facebook.  One of my dear life-long friends announced, via video-Facebook, that his father had passed.  This Facebook posting was sad but meaningful.  In a non-Facebook world, I would have found out this news by word-of-mouth through telephone from friends and family.  Facebook allowed me to see my dear friend talking about his wonderful father and what he meant to his family and friends.  Thank you, Facebook.

But then came the slap in the face: Facebook reminded me that today, Friday July 6, was a birthday of a friend.  I quickly clicked on her name and there she was on her Facebook page, almost seemingly alive again.  The only postings on her page were sad good-byes on her death of almost 10 months ago.  She wasn’t a childhood friend, high-school friend or even a social friend.  I didn’t know her husband or their two small children.  I only knew her pain, her sense of humor, her gut-wrenching poetry, her love of her family, and her wonderful style of writing. 

I met her two years ago at Borders, (remember them?) along with four other folks, as we gathered for our first “writers critique group.”  The six of us were members of the Writers of Kern, a branch of the California Writers Club.  We were all serious about writing and wanted to help each other improve and grow as writers in a positive and encouraging environment.  That night we passed out some samples of our writing, laid out the ground rules of our critiquing sessions and settled on a twice-a-month meeting place at one of the member’s home. 

We were certainly a diverse group.  We all wrote in a different genre and were aged 35 to 75.  My late Facebook friend I’m discussing was the 35 year old.  Her name is not important and her life and death details are too personal for this blog.  What is important to me is her pain.  Her emotional pain was evident to each of us in the group.  Yet, she had a sense of humor when she wrote about her family that could put Irma Bombeck’s humorous writing to shame.  This gal had a natural feel for sentence structure, grammar, humor and style.  The problem for me was she didn’t write enough of her humorous family stuff but would usually bring her poetry to the critique meetings.

 Her poetry stuck in my throat.  Her poetry froze my blood.  Her poetry drove nails in my heart.

Sometimes she seemed embarrassed with her poems, as if they weren’t very good and she shouldn’t be sharing them.  Later, after she passed away, I realized that she was sharing much more than her poems.  Her poetry wasn’t a look back at a troubled childhood, even though she shared that fact with me.  Her poetry wasn’t a visual representation of an emotional state she had endured in the past.  No, she was sharing her mind and heart’s real pain with us and it was very real and it was in the moment.  It overwhelmed her and broke her. 

Excruciating physical pain is sometimes unbearable.  Yet, there is usually a different posture, time-passing, a drug, or a surgeon’s knife that can bring some comfort.

Excruciating mental pain isn’t so easily solved. Words, drugs, doctors and even love can be inadequate. Writing about it can give others a glimpse of this burden, but in no way does it heal the author.

Even though Facebook asks me to write on your birthday wall today, I don’t think you would want that. I’ll just be grateful I met you and you shared your life and understand why you shared your pain.   Peace.

About bakoheat

Writer/Musician
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4 Responses to Facebook Slapped Me in the Face

  1. A potluck wedding? That is seriously old school! An interesting mixture of the old and new.

  2. Catherine says:

    Oh Dan…..your rememberance of the young lady in our critique made me cry. I still think of her ofter too….Catherine.

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