Many years ago, way back when I first met my homeboy Doug, we mentioned becoming Facebook friends. The conversation went something like this:
Doug: “Aight, cool. Send me a request.”
Me: Staring at him like he’d lost his mind. “Nah, you send me a request! I don’t send people friend requests!”
Doug: Staring back at me as if I’d lost my mind first. “I don’t either!”
Me: “Well I guess we aint gone be friends!”
That’s what I liked about Doug. His ego was as big as mine.
In case you’re wondering, no, we never did become Facebook friends. Something I never thought mattered much until I found out he’d been killed. On Facebook. Suddenly, that conversation played over and over in my head … and it just sounded so damn stupid.
I don’t blame those kids for sitting there, refusing to send each other a friend request. That’s who and where we were, then. There was no way to know he’d get killed and I’d hate I never tagged him in the photos we shared. There was no way to know I’d miss not being able to post on his wall that I couldn’t wait to see him in heaven or share with his friends that I’d poured a drink out for him.
We just didn’t know. But I know better now.
Last week, another friend was lost from that same circle. Teresa didn’t have the same hang-ups Doug and I had. She sent me a friend request without blinking. Heck, she even found me on Snapchat. Over the weekend, I scrolled through her photos and smiled. I can’t believe she’s gone … but I’m so glad I was able to post to her page and send my condolences.
I also found out she died on Facebook.
I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to reading about death on Facebook. It’s so jarring. So directly in your face, it’s like you’ve suddenly been stabbed, and then each comment you scroll through just digs the knife in deeper. By the time you actually talk to someone about what you’ve read, the damage is done. But nowadays, social media is often the fastest, and most effective, way to share news. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. I mean, even if you talk to that person regularly on the phone, will their grieving loved ones have time to call you, and everyone else that person knows? As painful as they may be to read, Facebook posts are probably just easier for the family.
As such, I’m now sending out friend requests. If any part of me cares about what happens to you, I’m sending one. Maybe I need a little time if we dated and it didn’t work out, or maybe I need a few days to get past our disagreement, but eventually I’m sending it out. Because I want to know what happens to you, and Facebook may be the only way I find out.
May Doug and Teresa both rest in peace. You are missed my friends. I’ll see you all again, some day.
And may we all make peace with social media, particularly Facebook, being the announcer of death.