An old friend from college died very suddenly last week, and as I've done many times in the past couple of years when someone dies, I immediately went to his Facebook page. Everyone he knew was 'congregating' there, with posts of memories and photos, random thoughts about him, inquiries into services, etc.
Most interesting to me, however, was how - interspersed with some of our outpouring of grief and memory - were random requests from folks in Mafia Wars, and interruptions from people who had "answered a question about him." Did they not know he had died?
Why was someone asking "Do you think So-and-so will get far with their dreams?" Seeing that post directly above a moving condolence from a friend was annoying.
As I scrolled through his feed to find my birthday greeting exchange with him from last month, I was troubled to find that it had fallen off the wall. All of these ridiculous automated posts from people who clearly didn't know him well enough to know he was dead had effectively erased my last contact with him. And now it is gone forever.
I was suddenly obsessed with the fact that in a few short days or weeks, his last posts, his last thoughts, his last outreach to the world (allbeit digital) was slowly being pushed out by these random, mindless posts from games like Randomania. And it prompted me to look up the Facebook pages of a few other friends who have recently died.
Just as nature in time reclaims what we build upon her, Facebook was reclaiming what was hers. All vestiges of what were once streams of intelligent thought, humor and genuine connection, was slowly being replaced by automated, banal, and insidious digital drivel.
My link to my friends is being erased. THEY are being erased, and all proof that they were once here, and were once contributing to the digital pool of human wisdom and understanding is being slowly stripped away.
I know they have all already died, and they are all already buried, and that what I am looking at was written in the past. But it feels like I am losing them all a second time. And for some crazy reason, it made me start to cry.