Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost In Translation

There is something lost in the translation of technology.
The nuances and intimacy of relationships are somewhat lost to the superficiality of facebook.

Don't get me wrong, I love Facebook. I'm undeniably facehooked. I have been able to keep in contact with friends and family that would have fallen away from me years ago if not for this social network. When I post pictures and status updates I get instant positive feedback and let's be honest, that certainly feels nice too.

However, something recently happened that made me want to close my account and go back to the good old days of phone calls and letters.

I was reading through the status updates of a friend when I saw a post from the week prior announcing the birth of their beautiful baby.
Dan and I count these people among our closest friends. We spent two years as neighbors in family housing during college. Ours were the only apartments on the top floor and our doors faced each other so we often propped them open, put the baby gate up to block the outer stairs and let the kids run back and forth as they pleased. There were cookouts that led to conversations that went well into the night. There was trick or treating, birthday parties, play dates and babysitting each others kids. We laughed a lot and on our darker days there was always someone right across the hall to help.

But we both moved on after college and facebook picked up where real life interactions ended.
So, when I saw the birth announcement of their son I didn't even read the entire announcement before I posted a congratulations message on their wall.

A few days went by when I received a private message from our dear friend.
If I had read the entire birth announcement I would have known that their sweet baby boy had passed away. If I had read the entire birth announcement I would have known that although it began with his birth announcement it ended with his funeral mass. I would have known that my sweet, strong friend was still recovering from the trauma to her body. I would have known how much my comment would hurt.

I wish I could take it back, but I can't.
Our friend was instantly forgiving and gracious, though I'm not sure I could have been so kind if the roles were reversed.

This experience made me look at myself long and hard.
This habit of scrolling through status updates and making the witty remark or halfhearted comment here and there undoubtedly played a part in this most mindless oversight. It seems that social media has taught us how to read to reply, rather than to understand.