Thursday, May 14, 2009

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I remain fascinated and a little unnerved by the entirety of Facebook. I love it and I have a lot of fun with it but it's still a foreign country to me. I'll have been reading religiously for a week and wonder why people ask where I am. I'm here! I'm reading! Oh, but I'm not updating my status or commenting on other statuses (stati?) so you can't see me. I'm lurking like a peeping perv. My favorite part remains stalking the photos. It's a little gift from the Facebook gods when someone I know is tagged by someone I don't know because usually I can see the whole set of pictures! To some access to a stranger's family album seems worthless, to me it's like candy. By the way, I loved your community theatre production of Pippin, please post video!

The flow of photos was more of a trickle last night, though, so I went tromping through my friends list checking to see if anyone had uploaded new photos. I noticed a recent Facebook friend, a woman I went to high school with, hell a woman I went through at least 6 grades with and maybe more, whose photos I had never checked. So in I waded, delirious with joy. There she was, clearly still close to some of our other classmates, and her sisters were represented but not tagged, stalling me for a good five minutes while I tried to remember their names, I still haven't come up with all of them, and there she was on her wedding day, if my fashion sense isn't wrong she's been married quite a long time and of course there were pictures of her kids. One whole photo album was of her 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl, between the ages of probably 11 and 6. Then in a separate album labelled "random family" there happened to be 2 pictures of a baby. Since all babies basically look like Winston Churchill with a good buzz on I would have skimmed over them had my eye not caught the caption. The caption gave his full name, his date of birth and, four months later, his date of death. Two dates long before Facebook was even an idle bar conversation fueled by imported beer and bravado.

Some might say it's weird or even inappropriate of her to lay that information out there like this. I, however, think it's perfectly acceptable behavior, and kind of brilliant. You don't lose a child like that and not have the experience shift your entire being. Out there on Facebook we're all combing through updates and wall posts and photos and lists of interests to see which parts of old friends are the same and which are different. "My son died when he was 4 months old." It's not something you can put in a 50 words or less reintroduction note and yet it's pertinent, vital even. She was, I'm sure, proud of him, her first born, and she has beautiful photos and she's generously shared them with us, in the process giving us a glimpse of the pivotal pieces of her life that don't fit into a pithy update or online chat program.

I wanted to say something but I didn't know what. There aren't any other comments on the photo and clicking the "like" button seemed both inadequate and easily misunderstood. I certainly don't like that he's dead but I do like the giddy Churchillian look of him propping himself up on a blanket in the grass. I clicked and hovered and thought for a bit before reminding myself that sometimes the right thing to say is nothing at all. It's enough to have witnessed and felt and to let that inform how I move forward.

This Facebook thing, it continues to surprise me at every turn.

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