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I’m a fan of facebook.  I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve been called an “active facebooker” by more than one person (though never to my face), but I find it a handy means of communication for a number of reasons:

  1. I hate talking on the phone.  I rarely call people because I feel like I’m bothering them and what I have to say just isn’t important enough half the time, and though I feel special when people call me, most of the time I’m doing something that I don’t want to stop doing.  Plus, most of the people I’m closest to don’t live anywhere near me, so I spend a lot of time on the phone just because of that.
  2. I’m a writer, not a talker.  See above.  I’m a fan of the email, the text, the chat (though that feels like the phone at times, and I avoid it a bit) etc.  I like thinking through what I’m going to say and organizing my thoughts.  I like commenting on other peoples’ thoughts without having to have a long, drawn-out conversation about it.
  3. I like a lot of people.  There are plenty of people who I genuinely like and like having in my life, but whom I would never call.  I used to get little dribs and drabs (what’s she up to these days?) from other people, but asking about other people all the time seems rude and a bit stalkerish.

Facebook solves all those problems, but creates a whole batch of new ones that plenty of other people have elaborated on, so I’m not going to.

Recently, facebook suggested I add a friend from Jr. High.  This is not shocking news, that’s all facebook seems to do these days.  Facebook was particularly aggressive in suggesting this person.  His face was always in my sidebar under “people you may know” and all my other friends from high school were connecting with him seemingly hourly. I barely know this guy. He was a classmate in 7th grade, and then went somewhere else to school, but I thought I’d see what was up.  I looked through his profile, remembered some things he had said that one year we went to school together that I didn’t care for (also recalled that I don’t think we’ve ever actually spoken to each other), and decided not to add him to my arsenal of friends.

As soon as I made the conscious decision to not friend this guy, another person posts on her page, “praying for the family of x.”  I did a little sleuthing, and it seems that the same day I rejected him, he died.

He was hit by a car while on a bicycle, and died a few hours later at the hospital.  I haven’t thought about this person for 15 years, then for two weeks I see his face every day, then he dies suddenly and tragically.  It was the most surreal turn of events possible, and now I almost feel like I should feel guilty that I’m not more upset.  Also, every time I search for another of my blogs in facebook, his regular profile, and memorial page show up second in the list.

I was telling Jewish Friend about this the other day, and it seems mere hours before I mentioned it, a friend had sent her a New York Times article about that same situation.

So many of Facebook’s early users were young, and death was rare and unduly tragic,” Mr. Katz said.

Now, people over 65 are adopting Facebook at a faster pace than any other age group, with 6.5 million signing up in May alone, three times as many as in May 2009, according to the research firm comScore. People over 65, of course, also have the country’s highest mortality rate, so the problem is only going to get worse.

Tamu Townsend, a 37-year-old technical writer in Montreal, said she regularly received prompts to connect with acquaintances and friends who had died.”

I guess I should get used to stuff like this as I get older, and certainly this is not the first person I went to school with who has died, but I’ve never felt so involved before. In terms of connecting people, facebook has officially succeeded.  It would be insincere for me to be more upset about his dying than I would be about anyone my age who is suddenly killed, but I’m glad I got to know that he had a good life and was loved.