I was gathering my things this morning as I prepared to head back "home" to Newport to say goodbye to a lifelong friend, my Grandmother, when it happened. I am a big fan of Facebook and one may consider my heavy use to be a bit too much, but I find it's a great platform to chronicle my life. Almost like a virtual diary of sorts. When I first signed up for Facebook a few years back, I used it primarily as a place to store pics from all of my amazing journeys that Pizza Fusion has presented to me. From riding tomato harvesters to test driving hydrogen fuel cell cars at the Honda campus in California, it's been a fun 4 years so far. I both appreciative and humbled by these experiences.
Then it happened... I received a random friend request from an old childhood friend. One that had slipped into the back of my memory until that moment. Many of us never leave home so their circle of friends typically stays the same. I went to Catholic school from K-4, Portsmouth Middle School, Tabor Academy, Middletown High-school, Northeastern University and then finally Florida Atlantic University. My education has has brought me the good fortune of meeting hundreds, rather thousands of friends from all over the globe. Friends who would leave ever-lasting memories with me but soon became forgotten as I moved on to the next town or school. You have to remember that this is pre cell phones, email and everything else. Basically before Al Gore invented the Internet. So to bring the story back on track... I received a random friend request from a very early childhood friend, one that is part of my Catholic School friends list on Facebook. Then I received another and another. All of a sudden, I had reconnected with people who really people I missed but had never left a trail of popcorn to come back and find them. I was the kid shipped off to private school only to realize it wasn't for me but left behind some wonderful people I called friend.
I never thought I'd see much use for Facebook but quickly realized what a genius Mark Zuckerberg really was. Yeah, so we all leave our hometowns for bright lights and the big city, or in some cases, we leave the fast lane for the simple life. And i realize we often time move to get away from a lot of these people we grew up with, and for good reason sometimes. Regardless of what path you chose, I was happy to start reconnecting with so many people, particularly with my Tabor and Northeastern friends. Not because I don't like my Newport or Florida friends but because I literally lost complete touch with them all. It was just the last place place I would ever have thought would bring such joy... Facebook.
So then this amazing relationship tool evolved into an extremely powerful platform for my business life as well. Connecting my customers with and friends with my business. Allowing a business to have an almost life-like presence on the web. A place to get feedback instantly and be able to personally respond. And this is only the beginning of the business component.I'll be sure to write more on this in my book or another post.
Then my relationship with Facebook took an even more unique spin. I make a million comments and posts daily. Most of them are humor, some are telling the world, including my stalker exactly where I am, and the rest of the time are random thoughts, pics and rants. I tend to not wear my heart on my Facebook sleeve and feel that no one really should. I don't care if you don't like my check-in at a restaurant but do care that I have have the common courtesy of not dishing out any personal shit going on. That is in fact, well, personal. So back to my story, i promise there actually is one. I was preparing my things this morning to say goodbye to my grandmother who was very ill. I was packing my suitcase with all the usual stuff in addition to my nice suit. The one I knew I was only bringing to really say goodbye in the event the hospice nurse was right. Well, as I packed my gym clothes and running shoes, i got the call from Mom; she passed away just moments ago. I missed my chance to say goodbye one last time. I was bummed, no question. Sad, yes. But I was lucky enough to try and help her break out of her care facility just a couple months earlier. We were like batman and Robin that day, except I didn't know I was gonna be an accomplice. My aunt had called my Mom during her last hour or so and explained how she was suffering. My step-dad Hans told my Mom to let my aunt know of an old Danish tradition. When a loved one is on their death bed, it is customary to open a window in their room to allow the soul to leave on their passage onto their next life. Well, they opened the window and Kay passed minutes after.
So... Back to the point of the story, Facebook. I mourned the loss of my Grandmother however I do my do and simply posted "RIP Nana" on my Facebook page. Then it happened. There was an overwhelming outpouring of compassion and condolences from all of my Facebook friends. Whether these people are "real" friends or not, they took the time to say "hey, sorry to hear the news" or "I'm here for you if you need me" and so on. It's not what these people were saying that made me want to write this, but the fact that they said anything at all. I know some people find our modern society of tweeting and texting to be very impersonal, and often times it can be, but when a somewhat complete stranger can take a second to show a little love when they absolutely don't have to, is a special thing. Death is such an awkward thing for so many and it often times makes us say nothing because it's easier. Facebook has given people a place to say things when they're sometimes needed the most. I'm grateful to have a close family and wonderful partner in life, but it's an indescribable feeling to have so many pay their respects and show their compassion. It's one of the intangibles that social media has provided us with. Think about how much more the philanthropic world can do because of the Internet, Facebook and the "like" button.
Thank you all for taking the time to say "I care" today. It's exactly what I needed right when i needed it most.