A couple months ago I had a birthday and I was overwhelmed by hundreds of greetings on Facebook. It was cool and fun and a bit mind-boggling. I liked it. At the time I wondered about the out-pouring of messages and chalked it up to lots of people that truly enjoy bringing joy into each other’s lives. Nice, right?
Today I lost my father and I decided to post the following picture and comment on Facebook.
“My Mom left us a few years ago. My Dad followed her today.
A traditional Jewish family with heaps of guilt and expectations, most the time way too serious and scarcely ever good enough. The flip side of all that was the certainty that family was always present and plentiful and when there was reason to celebrate, laughter and joy could not be more genuinely expressed than in this picture.
At 93, my father outlived almost all of his close friends, of which he had many. He was a social activist in his day contributing greatly within his Jewish community, and rarely missed a Mariners game all the way to within hours of his last breath. He lived his life like he played cards. He never lost. Farewell Dad!”
What followed was beyond amazing and gave me an insight into Facebook and the future of this behemoth that as of last Friday became a much talked about publicly traded stock.
Immediately I began to receive messages of sympathy, inspiration and prayer. What has had me in tears and what so clearly comes through with each message is Love.
It’s this out pouring that startled me into awareness about what Facebook really is, what it thinks it wants to be and what may eventually ends its rain like another misguided political party.
What I believe I have been receiving today, as many others have as well, is the heartbeat of this cyber social environment. At the very core of Facebook’s astounding growth is LOVE.
When it started in the colleges it was let’s get people connected. What drives connection? They need to feel loved.
College age kids away from their family, living in new and foreign environments, caught up in the throws and social complexity of college, were at the end of the day lonely and in need of a cyber hug.
All that hugging— sincere, playful or otherwise caught on and the rest of the world which has become increasingly disconnected from the encounters they used to have with family and friends also wanted hugs.
We want to feel loved so badly that we went from very private and protected to open and transparent… even beyond that which we were when face to face. Facebook has given a new meaning and understanding to vulnerability. I think that is a great thing.
What I have experienced today is one of the most beautiful and potent expressions of love I can recall. And it did not come from my romantic partner or family. It did not even come from just close friends. It came from people I hardly know. It came from people that like ALL of us wish to share the most precious thing they have to give—their hearts.
This is what has fueled Facebook’s growth. This is why we tolerate Facebook’s constant changes, ridiculous policies, almost tyrannical rules and regulations and complete lack of customer service. We want the bigger win. We want Love.