My friend Amy Celec posted a video of soldiers and their surprise homecomings on her Facebook page a couple of days ago, I watched it, I cried, and then I swiped it and shared it on my Facebook page yesterday morning.
Amy grew up in a military family, and she is also a Navy wife; so I’m pretty sure she has lived some of the moments that are captured in this three-minute video montage. I don’t think anybody, military or not, can watch this video and be unmoved. When I saw it for the first time I cried like a…well actually, I cried like a man. If you can watch this little gem and not cry, I’m sad for you. There was no political statement, just men and women who serve their country surprising the people they love, and who love them. In my travels, I’ve been lucky enough to see a few homecomings like the ones in this video. I feel so privileged to be a witness to that uninhibited expression of joy. Things like that are why I write.
Things like that video are why I like Facebook too. I like that my friends – many of whom do not share the same political views or ideals, can share a video of soldiers returning to their loved ones and find some common ground. Because the people behind the curtain at Facebook can do that, it allows me to overlook them sharing my info with marketers, and making me vulnerable to hackers who want to steal my soul. Life is about tradeoffs and compromise.
I don’t love Facebook, but I love looking at pictures of my friend’s grandkids. I am so freaked out by all the hot grandmothers I know, women that I went to high school with, and slow danced with, and kissed, are grandmothers! I would have very little interaction with them if not for Facebook. I think it’s awesome. Maybe I do love Facebook. Maybe I’m just afraid to say that I love Facebook because it’s kind of un-cool to say you love Facebook. I do feel like I have to rationalize why I enjoy it. Why?
Is it because the founder is such a little prick? Is it because it probably isn’t very safe from a cyber-security standpoint? Is it because it can be a bit mundane at times? I don’t know, and maybe none of you fellow Facebookers feel the same way I do.
You will hear me say, “…well, I’m on the road so much, it’s a great way for me to stay in touch with my wife.”* Or, “…well (I start most rationalizations with “well”) it’s social media man – it’s the wave of the future, I need to understand its inner workings because my kids will be playing here, and I don’t want my kids being involved in something I don’t understand.”**
*Rationale # 1: My wife and her circle of friends are hilarious…and stalking my wife and her Facebook friends actually does make it seem like I’m not so far from home.
**Rationale # 2: I’ve actually used the second one a couple of times, and that’s a big ol’ crock of bullshit because my kids are involved in algebra too – I never spend any time finding the value of y, but I spend a butt-load of time on Facebook.
I don’t know why I feel the need to defend it. Facebook is fun.
I find it fun, and there is no reason I shouldn’t find it fun. It’s social media, and I’m a social guy. So being a social guy, why wouldn’t I like Facebook? For the sake of making my point, I’ll leave the hot grandmothers, my wife, and “understanding inner workings” out of it for a minute. Let’s focus on my non-grandmother friends: I have re-connected with friends that I might have never seen or heard from again. Some might argue; if you haven’t heard from somebody in 30 plus years, they probably aren’t really friends. In some cases this is true, but there are many truths.
My friend Susan Dorton was in elementary school with me. First grade through fifth, she was in all my classes, and we were friends. I was “James” back then, and she still calls me James. Every time she addresses me as James on Facebook, I’m reminded of her kindness when we were kids.
I don’t know if she will remember this, I’ve never shared it before, but I specifically remember an incident where I was being punished for something, so I couldn’t participate in recess. I just had to sit there and watch the other kids play. I was upset, she saw that I was upset, and asked the teacher if she could sit with me. I was crying, and she made me feel better, for no reason other than she just wanted to make me feel better. It’s a cheesy, silly little thing; but that unselfish act was kind of hidden away in the corridors of my memory for years until we found each other on Facebook. I saw the “Hi James…” note from her, and it all just flooded back. I remembered her looking at me and smiling, holding my hand and patting my back. To reuse a line I’ve used before; I’m not a skilled enough writer to express the sweetness of that act of kindness. I don’t know if that memory could have ever been conjured without the Facebook connection. That alone makes Facebook a cool thing for me.
Susan and I grew up, and sort of evolved into different crowds – we stayed friendly for sure, but we had different friend circles as we got older. We have never exchanged a Christmas card, I don’t know her phone number, she doesn’t have mine – we are on different sides of the political fence, and Susan and I may never even share a meal together…but Susan is my friend, and I am hers. From what I see on her homepage, Susan is still a defender of the meek, and those that need a little cheering up…thank Goodness she still has the heart of that third grade kid. I’m grateful to Facebook for that connection.
On the other side of the Facebook coin, I don’t really care what anybody is having for dinner tonight, but I also really don’t care that people will share that information. I hear a lot of complaints about stuff like that. When people bag on Facebook, that’s the stuff they make fun of. I get it, but really, who cares? If someone wants to share something, I say share away. I’m turned off by drama that gets posted from time to time – in my mind, family squabbles and boyfriend/girlfriend issues shouldn’t be displayed for all to see. But that’s just me – it’s not a choice I would make. I’m sure I have friends that wonder why I post a battle between AC/DC and Kiss. What’s the point?
I post the nonsense that I post, because I love music, and I’m interested in what other people think about it. My friend that posts her issues with her kids, is probably just hurting, and doesn’t want to hurt alone, and she might not have a friend as kind as Susan.
I love music most when I feel like the performer is playing, singing, or has written from their heart. When they sing a song about love, or heartache, I have to believe them. I like Facebook most when I see that kind of stuff too. It’s why I loved Amy’s video so much – that was real stuff.
One of my very favorite singer songwriters is Tom Waits. Waits is unique, he can carry a tune, and he’s a great singer, but he doesn’t have a good voice – if that makes any sense. However, that not so great voice sings the truth. James Taylor makes you think of honey and sunshine when you hear his voice, Waits makes you think of whiskey – cheap whiskey, and cigar smoke when you hear his. One of his more famous songs is Jersey Girl, and when he sings, “sha la la la la la la I’m in love with a Jersey girl” you have no doubt that he loves this girl. You believe him. It reminds me of another Facebook friend that makes me smile just about every day…
…I played high school football with Kelly; we were more acquaintances than friends, I think I’m 2 years older than him. As with Susan, before Facebook, we were not in touch. I always liked Kelly, he had that subtle kind of sense of humor that I have always valued, he’s a good dude – I think everybody likes Kelly. A cool memory of him revolves around an epic “pick-up” football game we played after the high school days were over – that’s a story for a beer.
Flash forward 30 years later, and every morning on Facebook, around 4:30 or 5:00, Kelly posts a little personal affirmation, a kind of mini-journal of what he will be on this day. There is always some appreciation for the moment and his blessings, sometimes it’s for the very air that he breathes…sometimes there is forgiveness for those who may have hurt him, and sometimes there is contrition for his own human flaws. It’s a different message every day, and I really miss it when it isn’t there. Some days it can be a little dark (as all our days can be), and some days it can be a little cheesy (we all have those too). But every post is real, his heart is on his sleeve, and it’s on his Facebook page, and it’s a BIG heart. How can you not love that!
Kelly, like Tom Waits, might not have the greatest voice in the world, but when he writes that he is “…smiling and waving and wishing you a day full of love as I pass you by” you believe him. He doesn’t write these things for any kind of Karma so the Universe will reward him – I think we would all see through that. Kelly isn’t expecting anything back, he’s just giving his friends a gift; a little love and goodwill to start their day. How can you not love that?
I love Facebook.
Thanks for reading…thanks for being my friend.
The Large Man