Last week, a beautiful elder in my community, named Isis, passed into spirit. Although significantly disabled by her many chronic health issues by the end of her life, Isis was an active Facebook user. When I heard that she had passed over, I went to her Facebook page and posted a brief good-bye to her. When I returned to her page this week, I discovered that many, many people had done the same thing that I had done. Her Facebook page is now a monumental tribute to a life well-lived by a marvelous, generous, enormous spirit. It is loaded with beautiful messages, images, remembrances, music, poetry, blessings, and prayers. It has become a vehicle for a collective mourning by a host of people, most of whom do not know one another, but who had their lives touched by Isis. On Facebook, I can still visit the living Isis by scrolling back on her page and reading her own musings and hilarity from months and years gone by, peeking at her photos of herself with her grandchildren.
Facebook gets a lot of bad press. It can be a massive waste of time, a black-hole of a time-sucker. It’s accused of being pretend communication, not real communication; a wasteland of shallow and useless multimedia junk; a collection of superficial and phony relationships; useless bunk. If you’re on Facebook you need to get a life, etc. etc. etc. Well I don’t buy it. I love Facebook and I don’t care who knows it. Like most things in life, one must exercise restraint; but when done in moderation, there is a lot of benefit to reap from Facebook.
I go on Facebook every day when I take my lunch break. I click on very few links to videos, music, or articles. I am selective. But I do click on a few things. And I find most of them entertaining, informative, funny, uplifting, beautiful, inspirational, and moving. (If they are not, I can tell right away, and I close them up and go somewhere else.) I am reminded that there is a wealth of wonderful life out there, more than I could ever absorb. But I can enjoy a taste of it with my lunch. I resolved a while ago to use Facebook to emanate and absorb positive energy and I take care to do so by the choices I make when engaging with it.
Through Facebook, I have been able to become a part of the everyday lives of distant friends and relatives in ways never before possible. For example, when I was a teenager I lived in Scotland for a year. I remain in contact with quite a few good friends from those long-ago days. Until Facebook, our lives were extremely distant with little communication. But there are a few of these old buddies with whom I now converse regularly on Facebook, several times a week in fact, and we are again in each other’s daily lives. One of these friends (she lives in Fife) has two daughters who are grown, whom I have never met, and they are friends with me on Facebook too and I have developed a wonderful relationship with them. Sometimes I talk with them and their mom (my dear childhood friend). How cool is that? I am part of the daily lives of many relatives who don’t live near me, most notably some of my husband’s family in Chicago. And I can see what my children are up to and laugh at their silliness and listen to some of their music and see photos of them in their far-off grown-up lives. There are so many people with whom I share frequent communication who would otherwise not be a big part of my life if not for Facebook.
Through Facebook I have found a lot of people with whom I had lost contact and have had the splendid opportunity to see their children, their pets, their partners, their homes, and to get a glimpse into their lives. Facebook has allowed me to celebrate, mourn, laugh, shout, and share with people far and near. And it serves to remind me, daily, that there are people all over the world doing wonderful things in their lives. Wonderful big things and also wonderful little things. It reminds me that our lives are not actually as mundane as we may think. They are often rather momentous. They are filled with wonder. And the world is not necessarily a completely horrible place because just look at the goodness all around us. Look at the beauty and the hilarity that people are sharing on Facebook. I like having a piece of that. I appreciate the reminder.