Ah… the paradox of Facebook. Who knew such a simple idea could create so much angst and confusion. Ask one hundred people what they think about the Facebook revolution, and you’ll get one hundred different answers.

There are the pessimists who won’t get near it. “Why would I want people, many who I never liked in the first place, to find me?” Well, on the one hand I can understand how a person would feel that way having a few friends who I would have rather not have found me, now peering into my life, but I also think that avoiding Facebook solely based on this concern is a bit pessimistic.

There are the obsessive people who can’t pull themselves away from Facebook. Morning, noon, and night they tinker, post, comment, and peruse their sites. I’d prefer to watch a Nat’s game, but to each their own.

There are the “over posters” who won’t stop posting. Thank goodness I learned how to “hide all posts”, and thank goodness most people won’t know that their account of their every move is falling on deaf ears.

There are even the “over frienders,” who won’t stop inviting anyone with a heartbeat to friend them. I have a friend who has over 3,000 friends on his Facebook. I never knew he was so popular! Apparently, he’s the friendliest friend I know!

I could go on, but I did not come here to bury Facebook; I came here to praise it. You see, Facebook surprised me this last week, and came to my rescue. Sadly, our dog Jake, trusted friend and companion, died. I don’t need to tell you how difficult that is if you are a person who loves dogs. I suppose that one can be spared this level of pain by not having any pets, but to me, the positives are far greater than the negatives. This type of pain comes from the blessing of love.

As a memory of my pal Jake, I wanted to have his picture in my collection of pictures on Facebook. I did NOT want to announce his passing to my world of Facebook, but quite frankly, I did not know how to get his picture into my album without posting it. So, I nervously placed a small, insignificant posting with a couple of simple sentences and hoped that it wouldn’t be seen by many people. I had no such luck.

Soon, however, the comments started appearing. Although each comment was meant to comfort me, they initially had the opposite effect. They made me sadder. Every few minutes, my inbox would “ding” with another comment. I’m embarrassed to say I winced every time I heard that “ding” because I knew I would be forced to read yet another comment from my friends. Some of these friends I hadn’t actually physically seen or spoken to in over thirty years. I had haphazardly collected through this Facebook phenomenon, and I thought they were lying peacefully gathering dust on my Facebook friend shelf. And yet, these friends, along with my more traditional friends, all spoke to me from their heart.

My mood began to change from dreading the “ding” to reaching for it. These were people who had stopped what they were doing, and thought enough of me to try and offer comfort and compassion. Although many of us are quick to criticize Facebook, let’s not lose sight of its power. On the one hand, it has the power to gather an entire nation and ignite a democratic revolution, and on the other hand, it has the simple power to reunite lost friendships. It also has the power to console and teach.

My pal Jake

My Facebook connection, and my eclectic collection of friends, taught me that it means a great deal to stop what you are doing and care. The “dings” that go with this caring may sting a little at first, but soon that sting is replaced by the greatest healing of all; love. Knowing how reassuring and comforting their words were made me realize I can do more to support my friends. A simple, thoughtful response can mean a great deal. The next time I open my Facebook page and read of someone else’s struggle, I’ll remember what a few words from the heart can do… and I’ll take a moment from my day to do it. This is a lesson I will carry with me as I go about my business of putting one foot in front of the other, and remember my pal Jake.

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