I felt sad this morning and got an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. Normally I would grab my journal and start jotting down what I was feeling and experiencing. Instead, since I am extremely fortunate enough to have a column where I can write about whatever I want to write about, I decided to make it my topic for the week.
I was on Facebook, looking at some photos of the new adorable twin additions to my extended family and I noticed a name on the birthday list, tucked on the right side of my screen. I must admit that with so many people on Facebook, birthdays are not something that I click on regularly. I do my best to wish my immediate family members a happy birthday, but it is impossible to get to everyone.
I clicked on the name, as I knew that this person had passed away. I realized that the profile was still active. What was sad; however, was that there were many people who were wishing this person a happy birthday, as if this person was still alive. Obviously, they must not have known that this person had died, but there was a split second that I second guessed myself that maybe the person was still alive.
I then scrolled down on to the next block of items on the profile and found all of the condolences to the family and confirmed, by looking up the original obituary, that this person had for sure passed away. Then, I went back to the messages to see if they were in remembrance messages. What I found were numerous people who were wishing this deceased person a happy birthday, as if they had no idea.
How many of us are on Facebook with people who have never met in person? How many of us would not recognize the person if they were standing in front of us at the grocery store? How many of us have never had a live discussion with people who we are friends with on our Facebook? I know I would answer yes to all of the above questions. What does this mean for our society today?
In pondering this incident, I came to the conclusion that we are all on this planet together and we all have something in common. We desire and need to have a feeling of connection with others. We want to feel cared about, significant, important and intertwined with others, in some way. I once heard that this is why, even though there is enough square footage to live in our own section of the world, we live in patches, across the globe, in close proximity to one another.
I truly believe that it is ingrained in us to want to be a part of a pack, a team, a family or a community, even though many of us do enjoy our quiet time and alone time. What I realize is that people genuinely care about others. Reading of the overcrowding and chaotic incidents that occurred at the Raptors parade and celebration, it was remarkable how many stories of strangers assisting perfect strangers during stressful, emergency and difficult situations.
Humans are generally good. Humans generally want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Humans will generally reach out, offer a hand, give what they can and do contribute to others, because we are inherently kind, loving, helpful and pure. Certainly, there are many exceptions to the rule and many people have become jaded, angry, bitter, hateful and annoyed with other humans, but for the most part, I believe that the positive aspects of human nature will prevail.
I realize that the people who wished the deceased person a happy birthday were only trying to be kind. They wanted to send their birthday wishes to this person because this person was a wonderful, genuine, sweet and soft-hearted person who would always bring positive energy to those in the circle of contact.
What I know is that although we are not intimately connected to our “friends” on Facebook, we are part of unit, a community, a team, a bunch of people who are longing to feel connected. I have made a point of removing every single person on my news feed because I find the endless stream of posts, showing up on my phone or computer screen is overwhelming.
Instead, I manually go to profiles when I think of someone, want to check in with family, have a dream about someone or a person comes to my mind, for any reason. Once, I dreamt of a person who I hadn’t seen in years, and when I went to her profile, I found that a parent had just passed away, which prompted contact.
I do believe that we are connected to others on a spiritual level and that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. I also believe that we are all doing the best we know how to do. I believe that although it would be nice to keep up on the lives of every single person who we come in contact with, on social media or in person, but this is not realistic.
We all have our own worries, our own family and friends, our own lives and our own world. We are all fumbling through this life in the best way that we know how and we are doing our best to stay connected and on top of the things that make us a good family member and a good person. Sometimes, though, we just have too much on our plate to do this thoroughly and as intimately as we would like.
My birthday is private, on my Facebook profile, as I don’t want perfect strangers to feel the need to wish me a happy birthday and I feel awkward thanking strangers for birthday wishes. I appreciate that people are trying to be nice, but I would rather only get a few birthday wishes from my immediate family. I don’t expect my friends or extended relatives to know my birthday or celebrate my birthday. As long as I hear some happy birthdays from my immediate family members at some point, I feel loved. Now, when they forget, I may pout a little, but I have learned not to take it personally.
Many of us are like a hamster on a wheel, moving quickly, with urgency and trying to fit it all in. In Utopia, we would all slow down, our world would not be overpowered by technology, social media, 24-hour news and the bombardment of information, all day, every day. I know though, that this is not possible.
What I also know is that I can make my world just a little bit smaller by picking and choosing where I will direct my attention, who I will spend time with, how I want to interact with people, what I will read, what I will watch, where I will put my effort and what I want each and every one of my days to look like.
If I miss wishing you a happy birthday, I do apologize in advance. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wish you the best in your life – I really do. What it means is that I am probably hanging out with my daughter, my grandchildren, my husband, riding my motorcycle, exploring nature, on a trip, writing or having family time. Perhaps, we just need to put our full focus on our immediate bubble of family, friends, coworkers and those we interact with regularly, instead of peripheral relationships.
Having meaningful conversations with strangers, friends or anyone face-to-face is awesome and should be genuine and embraced, as much as possible. It is the technology-based relationships that may be a bit more superficial and may lead to us not even knowing if someone has died.
Let’s all make our bubble a little smaller and put our effort in improving our face-to-face and intimate relationships. Facebook relationships are important to our overall sense of community, but there is no room in our back yard for all my “friends”. I am sending a blanket wish of health, wellness, peace, joy, love, success and happiness to all of you, but I will likely not be at your door with a card anytime soon. I just happened to be pretty busy with the family bubble these days and I love it….
Who are the people in your bubble? Who would you like to keep close? Are you giving them your full attention? Are you building live, one-on-one, face-to-face conversations and relationships? What can we all do this week to make our bubble even happier and more fulfilled than it is right now, by nurturing personal interactions and making time to see people, in person, if possible?
We can build healthy relationships again. Let’s all make the effort. Happy summer and have a great week ahead!
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” ~ Dale Carnegie
Photo Slideshow – “Keeping it close”: