Last night I learned about the passing of a Facebook Friend. I knew her through a mutual friend named Thu. She and Cheryl worked in a hospital together and became instant friends. Cheryl was as sweet as they come. Kind, loyal and selfless, She remembered details about her friends’ lives, which made us all feel special. And to Cheryl we were special. Although Thu and I have met in person, I never met Cheryl in person. She was strictly a Facebook friend … and yet, I mourn her loss.
Cheryl’s family and close friends are devastated, including, of course Thu.
A few weeks ago my Facebook friend Bill died. Conversations with his fiancée, Melanie, indicate it was sudden and unexpected. She is, understandably, shattered. He was another very kind person—couldn’t hurt a fly. He never had anything but nice things to say about people and when he had to express a negative opinion, it was done constructively. Bill had a wicked sense of humor. Bill appreciated music. His taste in music was very eclectic. I often teased him because he dispelled the myth that White men can’t like R&B and Motown. He was even up on some Hip Hop. I loved it! Bill frequently posted music from YouTube on his Facebook timeline. As all over the place as my musical taste is, Bill matched it. I miss Bill. He was a little older than I am and he had lived many lifetimes and had lots of advice for anyone who asked. And I asked, believe me.
Over the years I have lost many a Facebook friend.
Aaron, Raymond, Susan, another Bill, others. They’re people I never met in person. We had many conversations—most of them deep, intellectual, and more than likely, political. They made me laugh, think, and sometimes even cry. When they died—regardless of how: suddenly or following a long illness—I couldn’t decide how I was supposed to feel. I never met any of these people in person but for the time each was a Facebook friend, I got something very real out of the friendship. It obviously can’t compare to the love and loss their closest friends and family feel, but it can’t be dismissed either.
Processing When a Facebook Friend Dies
I have over 1500 Facebook friends. I have no idea how many of them I have met in person in relation to how many are virtual. My best guess is 1/3 are friends in “real life” vs. 2/3 being people I have never met in person. Some of my Facebook only friends I have known since I opened my Facebook account in 2008. Many of them I have met over the years. And while I have only met a handful of them in person, I consider several of them to be very good friends.
I would be devastated if one of them died, and although I don’t want to flatter myself, I believe those same people would feel something if I died.
And the fact is, I will and they will—die that is—and so we will have to face up to those feelings at some point.
I ask you, is it trite to feel something deep for someone you’ve never met and probably won’t ever meet in person? Does it make the friendship any less real? Does it make losing someone you only know through Facebook less significant?
I would like not to think so but perhaps I’m wrong. I don’t know. Do you?
Rest in Peace Cheryl and Bill. I loved you both!
In addition to being the founders of Multiracial Media, both Sarah and Alex are writers and opinionated ones at that. They like to write about many topics, including: politics (encompassing issues on race, gender, the LGBTQ—U.S. and geopolitics), current events (which could, of course, encompass politics), pop culture, culture and many, many others. The Letter from the Editor may cover our thoughts on current events or on-gonig issues that are important to the Multiracial Community. You never know what we’re going to write about and it may even include some humor, since Alex is a stand-up comic.