The work weeks passed in a blaze of productivity…but oh, the weekends. I had loads of overdue home and garden work, client work… no worries, I thought. I’d keep busy, call friends….
Little did I know…
Outside of the compulsive news-sharing, Facebook, of course, brought connection….lively connections with activists and news junkies across the nation and around the world. Many of us had never exchanged email addresses or phone numbers, because – why should we? We were in near-daily connection in FB-land or Messenger!
Until…..my contact list was just as inaccessible as the rest of my FB account. And I had simply vanished from their world without announcement or farewell.
Kind friends shared my news of deactivation with their overlapping friends lists. A couple of friends emailed in response. But that was all…and I realized with a jolt of humility that between the water-cooler convenience of Facebook, and our fast-rushing news stream, my Facebook friends may not have even noticed my absence. Even if they had, the velocity of the news feed and the busyness of their lives probably prevented their reaching out specially to a nonparticipant. I had become a rogue, a renegade. An outsider.
How I choose to pursue connections, what they will look like henceforth, is entirely up to me. And it is entirely probable that hundreds of Facebook connections might simply be lost.
That was when grief and loss finally broke through the energy that had carried me through the work weeks: at the thought that deep, profound friendships may have just vanished with my disappearance from the platform.
There is one group in particular – a group made up of poets and priestesses and psychologists, scientists, storytellers and mystics…we called ourselves a tribe. Early this year (2021), a dearly-beloved member, a storyteller, photographer, master gardener, potter, and force of nature in the form of a woman, who had become part of all of our off-Facebook lives in her travels, was diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable cancer and entered her decline only a few months later. A group member went to stay with her as she prepared to move into hospice; a week later we all gathered on Facebook Live to hold vigil with her as she lay comatose, the end approaching. We sang to her, read poetry to her, prayed with her, told stories of our friendships with her…cried and were held by the circle in our shared love and grief. The Live session lasted, I think, more than two hours.
Bonnie Ann died in her sleep the next day.
Some time later, her brother sent me a bowl that she had made, a form so organic that it seems to have grown directly from the earth. It sits as an offering bowl on my altar in her memory.
Connections like those are the ones that matter on Facebook. Connections like those are the ones I can’t let go. And because the Tribe group on Facebook was, for most of us, our only point of contact, these contacts are lost to me now.
That needs to change. So…I’m going to jump through the reactivation hoops just to check in with the groups I loved, let them know I’m leaving and make plans with them to stay in touch….then download my contacts and data, delete my account, and leave.
Make it a proper leavetaking, not an involuntary banishment. Do it with honor and love, not AI aspersions and reactivity.