On Facebook Tributes & Imagining a Different Social Media


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Grey-BG1Recently, while wasting time on social media, I ran across something that changed my time wasting into time eternal.

It was a Facebook post written by one of my dear writing friends, Cynthia Beach. In it, she paid tribute to a deceased fellow she never knew well—other than by way of buying the man’s old Buick from him months before he passed away.

The tribute is a short, image-filled letter to the gentleman, about an old umbrella she found, tucked under one of the seats of the Buick. The umbrella itself is old and frayed; its metal workings bent, cranky, loose. Any sign of newness is most certainly lost. So much so, it is hard to imagine it ever wore newness to begin with.

Here is what she wrote (you can read the entire post here):

The Unforgotten Things

Your umbrella is tidy, its tether tightened, holding protectively its limbs. It was left, forgotten and hidden, beneath the seat of the Buick you sold as you closed your life and departed. The umbrella is old-fashioned—dated—with its metal arms and a true wooden knob. I open it against the rain, its metal hinges working, though feeble. The thin fabric pulls short of the one arm that juts beyond the fabric’s reach. Threads have broken. Your umbrella isn’t perfect, new, unused. Your umbrella is old, but it is. And now it holds from my head a thousand drops of rain.

As soon as I read this post, everything around me lifted. My library office came into brighter focus. I could hear outside life more clear. Lines grew crisp, color wore vibrant. Whatever notions I held upon opening Facebook to begin with (no doubt a scattered, stalling, and self-absorbed mindset), dissipated the way morning fog melts at the sun’s warm rays. I shut down Facebook, shut down my computer, looked out my office window and inhaled deep this—as Cynthia named it—the blessing of words expressed as “soul-deep gratitude.”

I’ve reflected on Cynthia’s post often. Practically every time I’m on Facebook, in fact. After what I experienced reading her post, I realized something important: rarely, if ever, do I spend time on social media and leave off feeling soul enriched. Often, in fact, it’s the opposite. And this isn’t because most the posts in my social media feed are outwardly toxic—a few are; but most are simple posts highlighting kids’ accomplishments, fun trips, motivational quotes, etc. By all accounts, good things! And yet, I end up feeling less motivated, less enlarged, less…me.

After reading Cynthia’s tribute, however, this didn’t happen. I didn’t feel less me-like. In fact, I wasn’t thinking of me at all. Instead, I thought of Mr. Clair, passed away from this life, but not passed away. I thought of the great cloud of witnesses; those who’ve passed on their wisdom and their faith, as well as their umbrellas and their cars. It was a moment of enlivening. A still point, for sure.

Interestingly, a day after reading Cynthia’s tribute, I read a tweet criticizing a person for their grammatical errors in asking a homeschooling question. It went something like this:

If you make multiple spelling and grammar errors in your homeschooling post, MAAAAYBE you shouldn’t be homeschooling in the first place.

Instantly, my mind felt shriveled by too much saltiness. It was a notable difference. Maybe you can relate?

Ah, the power of words!

I wonder what it would be like if social media were a place where words only lived as soul-gratitude? If Facebook were a space dedicated to reflected beauty; Twitter, a moveable feast of stewarded words.

Wouldn’t that be something?


Copyright 2018 by Shari L. Dragovich