Facebook is one of those modern computer applications we use to divert our attention and occupy our time, along with 'connecting' in the modern sense.
I enjoy many aspects of that. It's the shortcut to keep in touch, reducing the need for letters, telephone calls, or even emails. Just go to their wall and post a comment. Look, there's a photo of a nephew or neice. How cute! 'Like'. There, connection made.
Of course, driving all of these are complex algorithms that deliver content. Your preferences are being measured through clicks. In order to be part of someone else's fabric, you must visit there page often enough, click there enough, that those clicks will rise up through your preferences to bring their postings consistently to your space. You and they must decide, how much of a relationship do we want? To what circle to you belong?
Humorously, my wife just discovered a book about neighbors who discover their Facebook pages are telling the future. The Future Of Us, Jay Asher, young adult. We picked it up. I love stories about time and reality.
But some older friends have difficulty with Facebook. So much of it is about the mundane, banal and trivial. "Look at my sandwich! Yum! I am so hungry!" "Just saw The Hunger Games. Killer." Yet, buried within it are often more critical moments. Last week a 31 year old Taiwan woman killed herself because her boyfriend had not returned to be with her on her birthday. She chatted on Facebook as she died, carbon monoxide poisoning from a charcoal brazier. People urged her not to do it, to stop, to open a window but no one called anyone to help her.
One the flip side, is it her right to commit suicide? What is a friend's obligation?
As often is the case, Facebook and the Internet delivers a sliver of life, a momentary insight. We know little else about this woman and why she chose this course. It's not unusual through our electronic webs. A man punches a crying child in the head and kills the child because he is trying to nap. What brought him to that point? Or what of the woman who sought child care for her two year old? Unable to find it, she killed her daughter and then her self.
In all these cases, we have small glimpses of the final moments. We don't know how they came to be to the point that they are willing to kill or kill themselves. It seems despite Facebook likes and friends, and electronic connections, isolation and depression grows. What is the cause and what is the byproduct? Have these things always happen but we're just hearing about them more often, or are they growing?
It all makes me wonder.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com