This week I have been affected by death on two occasions. Both times it has upset me and brought me to tears. Both times the deaths were of people that I don’t actually know. I know of them via Facebook friends but I can’t claim to know them. So why did it affect me so much? The outpouring of grief on Facebook shows that it is not just me that has been affected in this way. This leads me to ask…. Has Facebook become such a strong part of our lives that even the death of strangers affects us? It is a strange phenomenon but one that I quite like. I think that it shows, for once, the out and out good in human nature.
The first was the tragic new from an old school friend that she had lost both of her parents to cancer within 12 weeks. I broke down in tears when I read that her Mum had passed away. I haven’t seen this girl since 1996 – Wow that’s 20 years ago! I’m not even sure that I would speak to her if I bumped into her in town, yet there I was crying because she had lost her Mum and had only lost her Dad to cancer a mere 12 weeks earlier. I actually hid in the bathroom and cried as I felt so silly crying over Facebook, but I was genuinely moved and upset for her.
Yesterday the news broke of the tragic deaths of the young Warrington Band Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry. As Warrington is my hometown, this again struck a chord with me. Craig went to my school, I know his cousin, my mum went to school with his mum, I know his best friends, but I don’t know him as such. Yet, the sorrow and shock that I felt when finding out that he had died was very real. Equally, I don’t know the four members of the band… again, I know people who know them and so my Facebook feed has become a sea and outpouring of grief, support and celebration of their lives. How refreshing. It makes a nice change from the Britain First, Animal Cruelty and Duck Face selfies that are usually doing the rounds.
Sometimes I truly believe that Facebook is the root of all evil. Well, maybe that’s a bit strong, but working in schools I have seen first hand the bullying and pressure that it puts on young people. But for seven years Facebook has been a member of my family and I am not sure how I would cope without it.
I am guilty of oversharing nowadays. Myself of a few years ago would have despaired at the amount of shares that I do – promoting my blog and my book business. When did Facebook become so commercial?
Facebook has become my shrine to my baby and I am curious as to how many people have unfollowed me as they are sick of seeing what my baby had for breakfast! Yet, I have family and friends who tell me daily how much they love seeing the photos of Emilie and how they miss them if I don’t upload. I even have distant Facebook friends who I met on holiday who have said that they love seeing her grow.
Facebook has allowed me to connect with so many people. People that I would have lost all touch with by now. People I backpacked with; met on a trip around Ayers Rock and hid behind a bush and peed with… people I worked as a Holiday rep with – drunken buddies from University (long before social media existed… we didn’t even all have mobiles!) Old work colleagues that I miss seeing every day. So in that case, how can it be a bad thing to use Facebook when it brings so much joy?
But, like anything there are the down sides. The negative people, dare I say, the uneducated people, racist people. People who will share any old propaganda. Facebook is gospel. If you read it on Facebook well then it must be true. Why do people feel the need to make up stories… so it will go viral? Well done, the whole world knows you are a lying, attention seeking weirdo!
At the end of the day, Facebook is a community. It is a family, a school, a place of work… and in life wherever you are there will always be the minority who spoil things for others. I think that as long as the majority are using Facebook for the right reasons, having it in our lives can only be a good thing.
For now, it has become a living memory of the tragic deaths of five young, talented men and will be a strong community to carry the friends and families through what are sure to be the darkest days of their lives.
My thoughts and prayers are with them and also to my old school friend as she prepares for her Mum’s funeral.
I may not know you all. I may not see you. But I do see you and I do care and I will, like many others on Facebook be only a click away if you ever need a virtual hug.
RIP Viola Beach & Craig Tarry