It’s his birthday. He passed away a few weeks ago, still I peruse his Facebook page to read the birthday wishes. His childhood friends, family, and others who have followed his difficult ten year journey express missing him and wish him a heavenly birthday. I smile knowing he is finally at peace. I read on and am surprised by the number of people who are completely unaware of his passing. Somehow they missed the beautiful words written by his nephew, celebrating his life. Oblivious, they write greetings for a great day, to party on, and hope he is doing well. My first instinct is to comment, “He passed away. Thought you might want to know.” Instead I let it be.
I think about my own interactions on Facebook and I wonder why I keep an account I haven’t used in months. I have lots of reasons; staying connected to faraway family, reminiscing over those beautiful Facebook memories, and getting those helpful birthday reminders. And what about the 1200 mostly anonymous strangers that follow my blog page! How could I give up on these people waiting to read my stories? These are the people who will buy my memoir when I finally get the damn thing published. Really?
I had to laugh at my self importance and ridiculous logic. In truth, of those 1200 people, few comment or even ‘like’ my story posts. And, publishers don’t give a shit about a social media platform that has less than 50,000 followers. Something I learned as I researched publishing my book. Without celebrity or reputation, the writing has to be damn good. I’m counting on catching a break, and I’m feeling lucky.
So, it’s time to prioritize. I’ve decided to deactivate all of my Facebook accounts. I prefer the Instagram format and will continue to post there and to my Blog on WordPress. Most importantly, I’m focussing on the craft, writing and editing, making my memoir the best it can be.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss some aspects of Facebook, but it’s been a distraction. My hope is that the folks who have enjoyed my stories and photographs will follow me over to Instagram or WordPress. The most important people in my life can find anywhere, anyplace, anytime. If I created a Venn diagram to represent the two groups, friends and followers, I’d draw a big heart around the shaded area where they overlap on common ground. I’m grateful for every single one of them.
My thoughts drift back to my friend. He found great comfort in interacting on Facebook, his only connection to people outside of healthcare workers and the few of us who took care of him or visited. He taught me so much about the importance of human connection. I think social media can be an amazing way to connect, but it can also make us lose sight of the importance of connection beyond the superficial.
I look forward to more authentic connections. It’s the reason I write.