I have moaned many times about Facebook. Although I have a presence there with 450 people kind enough to call themselves my friends, Facebook is not really part of my life. In truth I use it to cross promote my wonderful blog, copy stuff I write to Twitter and only very occasionally to speak to others. If somebody is good enough to comment on what used to be known as my ‘wall’ then I will reply, or if they mention or ‘tag’ me then I will respond, but I don’t put any of my pictures there or use it for anything about myself or my life.
This is in contrast to many many others. Over the years I have watched them arrive, initially a bit dazed and confused, and then slowly evolve into using Facebook to track their life and loves. Others they know will track their lives and loves, and pretty soon there’s a living breathing association using the virtual world of Facebook with people keeping in touch with each other in both the real and this addictive virtual world.
I guess I should slap my forehead and say, “Derr, that’s what Facebook is for, dummy”, but I do think a lot of the people I once knew (who tend to be older and a bit more sensible than the youthful nutters that live and breath Facebook and use it for domestic arguments and break-ups) are probably using it properly, even though a lot seem to spend forever promoting videos they’ve found on Youtube or games they are playing via a latest scary Facebook ‘app’.
I also guess that the fact that there are people I once knew there should make me less anti Facebook. It doesn’t though. Bah Humbug.
Anyway, I should add into the mix that I once knew quite a lot of people, mainly people from the fringe radio-ish world, of course, but not just that lot. Then, for a few decades and for a number of different reasons, I disappeared from their real lives. They moved on, I moved on, and all we have left is a vague acquaintanceship that is from a very long time ago, nothing else. I’ve maintained a presence on the internet as Christopher England ranting in various forums over all that time, of course, but in real life I didn’t involve myself in these people any more. Sensibly, most of them avoided the anoraky forums and got on with their lives. Then along came Facebook and, as I said, one by one up these people popped again.
I found myself becoming a voyeur. During periods of having time to kill I developed a fetish for poking about looking at these people I once knew for real. The more they incorporated Facebook into their lives the clearer I could see them. I could stalk them, watching their every move, and, usually feeling jealous of their successes or adventures. For most of them, life had been very kind since I knew them personally. I got into a habit of just watching every now and again, laughing with them, feeling concerned when they spoke of bad things, and living their lives with them through their Facebook witterings, pictures and exchanges with others, and all of that without them knowing.
Ok, that’s all a bit weird. But, maybe it’s like getting involved in a soap on TV, and sort of emotionally living it. Nope, it still sounds a bit weird.
Anyway, something quite unexpected started to happen to people I was stalking. They started dying.
People I once knew were active on Facebook, and then suddenly they stopped. Their ‘wall’ would then fill with condolences and sad messages from those who knew them in real life. The more this happened the more I found myself grieving, even though all I am now is a voyeur watching people I once knew for a while.
I’ve watched lovely people die. I’ve watched people’s siblings die, and then watched them trying to deal with the awfulness they must have to then go through. I’ve watched them heartbroken and unable to cope. I’ve watched people who knew the people I once knew sorting out pictures they have of them for one last memory, and I’ve watched them mourning their loss. From my silence I have genuinely wished them some form of comfort that words could never convey even if I were to clumsily write them.
For some of those who I’ve watched die, I have had my own thoughts about how I should really have kept in touch in some way, but in reality we are all where we are and that’s the way it played out and was meant to be.
It worries me that all the dying can only get more frequent. Most of the people I once knew are now old. Old people die, damn it. And, I guess it serves as a reminder that I too will be getting to that point one day. I guess my blog posts will suddenly stop, my comments on Twitter disappear, and all that will remain is a frozen memory of whatever I was up to before I keeled over. No chance to say goodbye or anything, just cut off mid sentence like one chap I was stalking whose last Facebook words were “Can’t sleep”. Then he did forever.
Ok, to end on a slightly more upbeat and curious note about Facebook-stalking people I once knew. Having not seen them for decades, and then Facebook being all about them putting up pictures of themselves doing this or doing that, how come they all look so damn old? Oh yeah, I remember, it’s because the mental picture I have of them was taken decades ago and they’ve moved on whilst I haven’t. Weird reality check there, Christopher!
Here’s to many more years of Facebook-stalking and less of the dying, please.