“Technology is the opiate of the asses” I thought I was clever when I wrote this back in 2006. Now I’d like to admit that I was wrong. As many of you remember, I attended my high school class reunion about six weeks ago. I had a great time reconnecting with old friends, catching up, reliving old memories, and talking about our families. One moment however jarred me emotionally a bit.
Over to the left side on a table by the wall there was a large sheet cake with a celebratory greeting to our graduating class. The cake looked delicious and full of the promise of sugary butter creme frosting. I was looking forward to getting a piece later. Then I noticed a piece of plain white paper sitting unobtrusively on the tablecloth beneath the cake. Typed upon it were eleven names. The single, simple sentence at the top of the page calmly explained that these were classmates who had passed away since high school.
A couple were friends with whom I had spent significant time with in high school and who I had looked unsuccessfully for on Facebook over the last few years. I was sad. I was sad for two reasons. First I was sad about the loss for me, the family and other friends of those that passed away. Then I was sad that I had missed their passing. Sad that I didn’t know. Sad that I couldn’t have touched base with others to share our sorrow. I was sad that I hadn’t been able to share a word of condolence with their families and to tell them of my fond memories of their loved one.
This past week another member of my graduating class passed away. Sara had a bubbly personality and a smile that lit up everything and everyone around her. A large majority of our graduating class is connected on Facebook and there has been an outpouring of both sorrow, condolences, and a sharing of stories and pictures. People have written on her page and those of her family members to express thoughts and share memories. The best part is the pictures. Not everyone could, would, or should go to her wake, but Facebook has been filled with pictures of Sara happy and celebrating life. Pictures of Sara as we will always remember her, smiling. Chances are that those pictures on Facebook have brought many of us some smiles through the tears this week.
Earlier this week a friend from high school messaged me on Facebook to ask if I would write something on The Phil Factor related to our classmates passing. I replied that although I knew her and was friendly with her I didn’t consider myself a close friend and that I might not be the appropriate person to write sort of an online eulogy. He replied that he didn’t want me to write a eulogy, but that he wanted to hear my perspective on life and death.
I may not be a great philosopher, but here is what I learned this week: Technology may still be the opiate of the asses, but in some instances it has made the world a smaller and closer place for us all and for that, I am grateful. If I ever die, or more likely when I fake my death, I hope you all enjoy my Facebook Funeral. In fact, I may have to fake my death so some people on Facebook will stop asking me for Candy Crush lives.
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Facebook has it’s uses eh!
Facebook will be full of dead people in a few years. They will have to come up with another emoji to ‘like’ statuses with (like a coffin or something)
This reminds me of the difference of when I first went travelling by myself in the 1980’s to now doing it full time with my husband. Back in the old days, I had to wait until I got back to NZ to receive mail and then reply to people via slow post. Now it is brilliant that we can connect with so many family members, friends and groups via FB, email and messaging. Good post and isn’t it frightening to have so many of your friends have died at such a young age, under 70 is young!!
This is a really thought provoking post.
I am in my thirty’s so I have not lost many school friends yet (thank goodness!) However I did really appreciate all the facebook messages people left on a friends wall when she passes away. I know it is not what facebook is designed for, but I like that it can bring some extra comfort to friends and family.
Sorry for the loss of friends. You’re right, social media is just an extension of us all. Some good, some ridiculous, lots of exclamation points.
I remember this! I’m sorry for the loss you had, and you’re so right – social media makes the world a much smaller place!
Thank you Suzie! Now, 5 years later I’ll be going to another reunion and I expect there will be some sadness again.
I can’t believe it’s 5 years already – I remember reading this a few times over the years…
Well it’s only been 4 1/2. I’m looking ahead to this summer
Facebook does have its uses after all. And not just for cat videos (which will always be my top reason for Facebook). I think there’s something kind of gut wrenching being our age and finding out an old class mate hasn’t made it this far. Sorry to hear of this loss and all the other losses from your old school.
Was sad to read that. Thought-provoking piece. Thanks
I remember going to one reunion and seeing a lot of old friends and then the next reunion finding out that several had died in the past 10 years. We were only in our 40’s at the time.
Yes, I was surprised to see how many had passed away. Very sad at our age