You know that list of your Facebook friends, the one that’s in the column to the right of your news feed? Yeah, that one. I’ve never thought too much about it, except to wonder what the algorithm is that decides which friends appear, or whether it’s because they’ve recently looked at your page or what.
Well, I can tell you now that it’s definitely not people who’ve looked at your page recently, because I just signed in to Facebook to see my mother’s name at the top of my friends list. She never even put a photo in her profile, so next to her name it’s just the blank, white silhouette of a woman–which is kind of fitting, since my mother died a year ago, and she’s just a memory in my life now. A long string of memories.
I clicked over to her page, where there are just a few family photos, and a wall post from a cousin of mine, cheerily wishing my mother to “get well soon.” My mom had signed up so she could see the photos I post all over my wall and in my photo albums, so she could see more of me and my son and my boyfriend, since we didn’t often make the drive to visit in Philadelphia. (Until she got sick and my dad got sick and then suddenly I had plenty of time to drive back and forth to Philadelphia, every day, to take care of her and to take care of him, and to try to prepare for the end of parents.)
Who is the big admin in the sky? Shouldn’t he or she be pruning the Facebook pages so our dead friends and parents and sisters and cousins don’t rub shoulders with us in the internet in this way? I am sure I could figure out her password without too much trouble, but I don’t want to be the one who actively erases these last little bits and bytes of her. And it just feels wrong to block her; I want her to be able to reach me in whatever ways she can, even if it hurts.
Oh, dear internets: how you take and you give and you give and take again. Just like life.