Today is my birthday. As is customary on social media nowadays, I have been receiving lots of birthday wishes via Facebook. On the surface it must mean that I have lots of friends that care about me. Well I am sure that the people taking the time to wish me “HBD” or “happy birthday bro” don’t not care about me. It would be easier to not do anything.
But lately I couldn’t help but think about my friend Khanh Vo who earlier this month decided to take his own life. He currently has 261 friends on Facebook. 261 people who cared about him. 261 potential missed opportunities to say a friendly word, to impart a different perspective, to do something …
But what did it all amount to when in the end he still elected to take his own life? I don’t know all the intimate details around what ultimately led him to commit suicide. I also know I can’t simply place blame on his friends on Facebook for not jumping in to intervene either. That’s not fair.
However, it made me question the quality of the “friends” I have on Facebook. Not that anyone is actively doing anything wrong. But therein lies the problem, this whole structure promotes a passive “friend” system that often devolves the very nature of a friend to the obligatory like of a marriage, new born, etc. It absolves us of the responsibility friends have to each other to take time to be part of each other’s lives.
If we all lived in a more analog world, would my friend have had enough meaningful human interactions that would’ve prevented him going down the path he did? I have no idea, it might not have mattered at all. But seeing his passing left a bad taste in my mouth as it pertains to the quality of my friendships online.
So what am I going to do? This is my plan: set up calendar invites to hang out with my friends to see them in real life. And then do that shit. Actually see them. In real life. And try to raise the quality of my interactions. That goes for friends and family. I suck at this as much as the next person, but now the only difference is that I’m pissed off about it.
Do you think this whole system is bullshit too? So do something about it.