Some of my blog readers know I am “new” to Facebook. I resisted it for a long time and then I jumped in. Because I am a Facebook ingénue, there are features of social media which befuddle me, particularly the “sharing” of pre-packaged information. Occasionally, this information is actual “news.” One farmer friend “shares” news articles about the David and Goliath-like battle he and other farmers are waging against Monsanto. Other friends “share” pithy epithets and pictures from pages like “Being single is much wiser than being in a fake relationship,” “Godly Woman Daily,” and “Shut Up I’m Still Talking.”
One day, a friend from elementary school “shared” her grief over the front porch suicide of County & Western singer Mindy McCready. The singer’s death was disturbing; one month prior, her boyfriend had shot and killed himself. This troubled 37-year-old woman, who shot and killed her dog before she shot herself, is survived by two young sons. Scanning over her Wikipedia biography, it appears her life was filled with sadness and tragedy.
I didn’t know Miss McCready personally.
After reading this information, I wondered about the depth of sadness which would drive a person to take their own life. I thought about Miss McCready’s celebrity status. Did she have other celebrity friends? Although her loss of life subtracts from all of humanity, there wasn’t a damn thing I could have done about her sadness and her life’s problems because I didn’t know her personally. Then I took a moment to think about my own family and friends and wondered if any of them might be sad and suffering. I logged out of Facebook, shut my netbook, and called a friend I hadn’t heard from in a few weeks. We got caught up and then we made plans to take a walk together.
I continue to be bothered by some of the things people “share” on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t care about sadness, pain, and suffering; on the contrary, I care about these things very much. But I am a finite person, put on this earth for a certain number of days and years with a limited amount of time for helping others. It’s possible that the only people I might ever influence in this life are the ones who live right next door to me. There is enough grief and sadness to go around in my own little corner of the world and that’s the corner I need to tend.
The other day, a good friend had to have some additional medical tests done. Something of concern was seen in a routine scan and more testing was required. She was nervous and as the hours passed between the routine scan and the next test, she shared her fears with me. I asked her if she wanted me to go to the hospital with her, but she said no. I told her I was available to help her in any way I could and I texted her in the morning before she left for the hospital. I agreed to stay in communication with her while she was waiting. I put aside a few of the papers I was shuffling around my desk and focused on being available for my friend. I was nervous for her. Some time passed with no texts and then she sent me one that said “All is good! The results are fine!”
I was relieved.
Social media is weird and wonderful and I enjoy an occasional voyeuristic glance into the lives of celebrities. Then I remember what is real in life–the real people I see today and the real people I might actually see some day in the future. These are the people I want to know about and I want them to “share” their real lives with me.
“Share” the “real” today.