I don’t have a Facebook page. I’ve never had one. I disagree with so many things about Facebook, and it’s just such a huge time suck that I don’t need on top of all of the other time sucks I already give in to. Plus, the whole thing just seems like a huge vomit of “Look at me! Guess how many times I worked out this week! My kid is more awesome/adorable/advanced than yours! I’m having a rough day, but am going to be intentionally vague about it so that people will feel compelled to ask me how I am!”
Ugh. The whole thing just reeks of self importance and self pity to me. Which is why I don’t have a Facebook page.
Except that I do. Kind of.
A few years ago, I was taking over the administrative functions for the Facebook page of an organization I was working with, and you can’t do that without a personal page. So I built a dummy page with a mostly fake name and refused to send or accept any friend requests except for the one person I had to so that I could do my job. (As a funny aside, that one person is the one person with whom I now share this blog. We are indeed intricately linked.)
So I was sitting on the couch today, fairly trapped by a contentedly napping newborn. Happy to have a few moments where his nap coincided with his older brother’s, I was averse to moving and spoiling the silence. IPhone in hand, I proceeded to look up dumb things – on Pinterest, then etsy, then buzzfeed. And then my brain whispered “Hey. Hey! Pssst!! Remember that guy you were friends with when you lived in that state you used to live in? The one you haven’t talked to since you left? Wonder how he’s doing.”
This guy, who I’ll call Michael, was indeed a great friend of mine. I met him while I was dating a guy I had no business dating, and who I dated for far longer than I should have dated him. I’ll skip all the blahblahblah about that whole romantic situation, and just say that Michael was one of the best things I found while in an otherwise pointless relationship. He was one of my silver linings.
Michael was one of those rare folks that I just felt immediately comfortable around. He would inevitably end up at our apartment after a long day of work, and would just sink into the place, like he had been there the whole time. He once seamlessly pulled off what was possibly the best practical joke anyone had ever played on me, involving a fake scratch off lottery ticket that had me convinced for a few shining seconds that I had just won $10,000. He was just an awesome human being, and a fantastic person to be around. I can honestly say that my feelings for him were similar, although less strong, than the feelings I have for my big brother. When I moved away from that state, all of my friends there held a huge party in a lovely park for me, and Michael cried his eyes out when it was time for me to go. We had been close. We had been like siblings in that time of our lives, and I think we both knew we would never see each other again.
Fast forward ten or so years, and I am on the couch, sleeping babe in my arms, wondering if Michael’s life turned out well, if he was happy. Enter the dummy Facebook page. It took less than a minute to find him, since he has a not entirely common last name. There he was, fuzzy beard, huge smile, holding a baby of his own. I felt joy – real and big joy. Michael was doing well. He had a baby, he was happy. Hooray for facebook!
I should have left well enough alone. Should have taken a last look at his smiling face and round-cheeked baby and closed the tab. But I scrolled down. I checked out his posts. And my joy was gone.
Somewhere in the years between the party in the park and today, my dear friend had changed from a happy-go-lucky welcomer of all into a crazed, right-wing gun nut. Not to be confused with a conservative Republican who happens to strongly support Second Amendment rights, this friend of mine now believed that every man, woman and child should be packing heat at all times. He believed that Sandy Hook was an intricately woven lie constructed by the liberal media to deprive honest Americans of their guns. He believed that Obama was a terrorist, or Satan himself, or (gasp!) maybe even a Muslim.
His whole feed was just picture after picture, meme after meme, that let me know that aside from that round faced baby, he loved his guns more than anything.
And just like that, Michael was gone to me.
Since I moved away, I’ve remembered him from time to time, a dear friend who had been there with me in some of the more confusing years of my early adulthood. We had not kept in touch, but I always felt that he was still my friend, was still the person I had forged such a valuable connection with.
I wish that I had kept Michael as he was in my heart. I wish that I still had that unbruised image of the friend he had been, and the person I hoped he had become. If I had never moved away, I imagine Michael and I would have slowly grown apart and gone our separate ways as we each developed into the people we needed to be. And I think I would have been ok with that. But this. This sudden loss of the picture I still held onto, it was just too much. It hurt my heart. In a way, I lost a friend today.
F*ck you, Facebook. And f*ck me for being there in the first place.