Dear Facebook "Friends"

I was troubled recently by something I encountered on Facebook. That can be said by a lot of us, I suppose. But this was different. And weird.

A notice popped upon my Facebook page that it was my friend’s birthday. “Wish Rick a Happy Birthday!”, it read. Well I would have, except Rick died months ago.

My curiosity got the best of me so I found myself clicking on Rick’s page just to find out how it could be that a deceased person could still have a Facebook page. I was astonished by what I saw: more than forty-three “Friends” wishing Rick a “very happy birthday!”, or asking what he has been up to lately.

More than forty.

After poking around a bit further I saw that Rick had accumulated over 900 Facebook “Friends.” Well, here’s the thing — I think that when you die your real friends probably know that you’re dead. All the others? They’re just players in the orchestra of your life. They come and go, or pass through once and disappear. They are not friends, not in the truest sense of the word. At most they are mere acquaintances, or something far less.

So I guess with all the other changes in the world that technology has brought to bear, I just wanted to go on the record as saying that calling someone a “Friend” on Facebook doesn’t make them such. Not unless, that is, the generations after mine have decided on a whole new meaning of the word. If that’s the case, then I am sad to think they have never experienced true friendship. Otherwise, they would know that to call someone a “Friend” actually means something. True friends are there through thick and thin, for better or worse. They leave their mark on your life, and you on theirs. They love and care for you, for some time, or for all time. You can count on them. Maybe it's Facebook’s fault; this bogarting of the word “Friend” as its own.

I resent that more than just a little. 

So here's the deal: if you're going to die, please post it on your timeline so that the rest of us won't embarrass ourselves by wishing you a post-humous "happy birthday. "




Posted on December 22, 2015 .