I don’t really understand Facebook. Sometimes I am told that someone has requested to be my friend, but more often I just seem to develop friends that I don’t recall ever approving. But “friendships” are nice, so I haven’t worried about that too much; and besides, I’m too busy to pay much attention to Facebook anyway. Yet a few weeks ago, when I had a birthday, there were about a dozen “Happy Birthday” notices in my e-mail from various “Facebook friends”. Even though I knew Facebook automated messages had told these “friends” about my birthday, it was never-the-less gratifying to have so many people say “Happy Birthday” to me.
That’s why I decided to wish an old high school acquaintance “Happy Birthday,” when Facebook sent me a message about her special day coming up. In the e-mail, I was asked if I wanted to post a message on her wall, so I went straight there. Since I’m a writer, I didn’t want to just say, “Happy Birthday,” and be done with it, so I wrote a little joke about getting older. AFTER I posted the comment my eyes went to the next comment in line. To my dismay, I learned that this old acquaintance had recently passed away. Although she lived a thousand miles away, my hometown is her hometown and I haven’t seen any obituary in the paper yet, so I assume this happened very recently. At any rate, she didn’t live to see that birthday.
I immediately posted another comment, this time addressed to her husband, saying that I had not read the other comments before posting my “joke” and that I regretted it. I offered condolences and signed off that Facebook page, still burning with shame. And that brings me to writing this little message. Never again will I ever comment on anybody’s Facebook page without reading the other comments first. I really didn’t know her anymore and had little interest in reading what other people said. I just wanted to give her a moment of pleasure by having someone out of the long-ago past send a cheery message for her special day. Now I know why I should have cared more about what was on that page before writing my “cheery” message.
I hope my experience will prevent someone else from the shame of a major Facebook faux pas, such as mine. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel like I do at this moment.