I have developed a love/hate relationship with Facebook. The hate stems from the fact that I’m really annoyed with the service at the moment… Mostly because my “interests” included “my muffin” (Desi), “pretty journals”, and a number of other random odds and ends that don’t really have a designated page so they have since been deleted. Plus, Mark Zuckerberg is an ass hat.
That aside, my loving and dear relationship with Facebook is way more personal. A relationship I’ve been struggling over addressing as it’s not my issue. This post has taken me over a month to write properly because there is no good way to blog about the death of a friend.
A little over a month ago I get a call from one of my oldest friends, Nicky. Dialogue is easier in this instance so here it goes:
Nicky: Have you seen Niki P’s Facebook profile?
Me: Um… Hi! What’s up?
Nicky: No, seriously. Have you seen it?
Nicky: I think we lost him.
Me: What do you mean lost him?
Nicky: Marian, I think he’s dead.
Me: What the fuck are you talking about? That’s ridiculous.
I then proceeded to look up Niki, the brother of my childhood best friend, Thana. His Facebook wall was littered with “RIP, bro’s” and “I miss you’s”. Then I Googled him. Nothing. No news, no explanation of what the hell had happened to this boy I’d known since he was five.
To be honest, I initially thought it was a joke. A sick joke, but this was a first for me. I couldn’t reach Thana, but her Facebook wall looked similar to her brothers. Lots of “you’re in my prayers” and “so sorry for your loss.”
Really? REALLY? Did I just find out that my best friend’s brother was dead through Facebook?
I got a text from Thana later that day confirming it was not, in fact, a joke. I still had no idea what happened but my friend was busy and most likely screwed up out of her mind, so the internet was the only connection to what is now one of the saddest days of my life.
Thana is a wonderful person and the two of us were attached at the hip as children. She moved to Croatia at 13 and we continued to be best friends, regardless of the distance. The problem with her Croatia location is that I can’t be there for her. One of my oldest and dearest friends is halfway across the world and I can’t do anything about it. So I used Facebook.
The Love/Hate Relationship
Facebook. The brunt of many jokes; the confirmation that you are indeed “friends” or “in a relationship” with someone. A defining element of our generation. The website that can prevent you from getting a job (or get a you a job). The one presence in our lives that made privacy, well, totally optional.
I always saw Facebook as a necessary evil, but a month ago it became my comfort. The one thing I had of my friends that made me part of their grief instead of separated from it.
Finally, Google told me Niki died in a car/motorcycle accident, but I continued to stalk his Facebook profile. Friends started to write stories about him on his wall. One friend created a memorial video. Someone started a group that in a month has 490 members. People submitted photos and videos to a dedicated album.
Niki’s memorial service was in California, where he went to school. I unfortunately couldn’t be there, but Thana posted her father’s eulogy as a note on her profile.
Facebook may be a silliness attributed to our generation, but I realize now it has completely altered it. Facebook has, importantly, changed the way we grieve. It’s made it better. Easier. Well, as easy as grief can be.
Is it just me, or have you experienced anything like this too? Stories of Facebook as more than just a frivolous social tool? And my weird curiosity has me wondering, what happens to someone’s profile when they die?