FaceBook, Heaven and Hell
Submitted by admin on Fri, 11/28/2014 – 07:42
“What? No FaceBook in Heaven?” I ask all incredulous-like. “Say it ain’t so.” Then in a Huck Finn moment I am resolved, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”
On other days I flirt with the idea of walking away from this on-again, off again relationship I’ve had with FB. “I’m done, I say. I will just walk out that portal door and never read another rant, cliché meme, or the worst: “vaguebooking” posts. Or are duckface selfies the worst? I can’t decide. Yep, this time I am leaving for good. Really I am.
So why am I still here?
Why, indeed. I’ve been thinking about this and have decided that it’s real simple. My friends are here.
Which brings me back to the subject of heaven (and I’ll do my best to not like a girl’s camp testimony meeting here). I stay with FaceBook because finding my friends is what I hope for most in the afterlife. Social media is an approximation—a clunky, sometimes ugly—approximation of something I want to believe after we die and all regrets can be made right.
For me, regret often centers on not giving more to the people I love. My excuses might be valid, namely that there simply isn’t time or capacity to have deep and continuous relationships with everyone I care about. Having so many dear ones in my life is a happy problem, I know, but it still gives me pause. I have a huge family, and so many friends, all the way back from childhood. I meet new people all the time that I want to add to my circle. I want to know what’s going on with everyone and to have true connections. I simply can’t.
Even during these baby years where I consciously don’t have many commitments outside work, there’s not time for much beyond my little family. Rather, there isn’t time if I want to really savor this phase without being distracted by running all over the place. So being present with my baby girl comes at a price of other relationships.
A few years ago I got thinking about people who had come and gone from my life and those new acquaintances I want to know better. I knew it wasn’t possible to give both the quantity and quality of time with everyone I’d like. It got me fanaticizing that maybe this will all be sorted out in the afterlife. Namely, if I get to choose my version of heaven, people won’t be constrained by time or form. We will each have limitless capacity to connect. I’ll finally be able to catch up and keep up with the people to whom I said, “We should get together more,” and meant it. Imagine how it will feel to pick up every friendship that fell by the wayside during life and every acquaintance that never became fully realized.
My point is that this Internet construct with a blue and white header is a clunky step toward this ideal. It’s got flaws, but it’s a better tool than we had before. FaceBook shows me snapshots of my friends’ lives wherever they live in the world. It shows how many children they have and glimpses of their best moments. It allows us to age imperceptibly together rather than an all-at-once shock at the reunion. When did we get so old?
FaceBook has kept me in touch or reunited me with so many friends from youth. Like Steven King said, “You’ll never have friends like the ones when you were 12.” We had so much time then—time to talk about our fears and dreams and crushes. Time to be silly, time to just be. Remember how the telephone cord would be stretched into our rooms for hours? That kind of time bonded us and shaped me.
Now at 40, I am beginning to understand whoever said, “The older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”