2005. I remember the day I created my Facebook page, I was 15 and unaccustomed to using a computer in this manner, for fun rather than school research. It was an exciting time. The only reason I was familiar this new contraption was because of my friend’s older brother who was heading off to college. Facebook exploded soon after, becoming the social and cultural phenomena that we now know of it as. A platform for billions of people to communicate across racial, ethnic national, engendered, ideological lines. It has allowed people who don’t have much in terms of material wealth to lie on an equal play field with people in the most developed nations. It’s a way for us to present a version of ourselves to the outside word that is somehow intrinsically connected to our total being, without being something tangible. Think about it critically and you might agree with me.
It is a glorious tool that has reshaped human connection and communication, recalculated how love and relationships work, revolutionized how humans interact. And this is where the issue with Facebook lies. It is a piece of technology that will last longer than any of our lives.
I am Facebook friends with a guy that passed. I met him once at a accepted students weekend for college seniors. I remember his height and eye color. I remember where he was from. If I saw him in the street, I may talk to him, but he wasn’t an integral part of my life, a close friend that I needed to talk to everyday. He was an acquaintance; someone I met once and had little chance of meeting again. I found out his passed via Facebook and his life is now immortalized on his online page.
It’s eerie that something so personal and intangible can last once a person has left this earth. His physical body may still be on this earth as are the things he life behind. The various lives he touched and engaged with are touched by his presence, his memory. These lives and the earth carry his soul, that piece of us that lives on once we pass. His soul lives on and Facebook seems like a manifestation of it, a visible embodiment of what was once ethereal.
Isn’t it odd though? Facebook and other forms of social media are little snippets of a human soul that will last longer than anyone who will remember the actual person. Do I like this? I’m not sure. It is an interesting conversation to have as Facebook has the potential to become an online graveyard. I understand the comfort that may come from continually posting on the Facebook page of someone who has passed. It shows that they have not been forgotten, they are still loved, people still care. Honoring, celebrating, remembering someone’s life on Facebook is fine, but doing so in other ways is more important, and most importantly more humanizing.
As for the deceased boy I am friends with on Facebook I am going to remove him. I know I can never honor his life in the way that is necessary.