I just had a birthday. Not a “big” birthday, not one that ends in 0 or 5. Not a birthday that I consciously thought about before it arrived, or particularly looked forward to or dreaded. Still, birthdays mark another period of time gone by, and even more, they are an opening into the time to come. My husband and daughter were lovely to me, taking me out, making me dinner, and my son called the day before from Korea, where it was already my birthday. I am so grateful to them! Still, I would hardly have noticed this birthday, sandwiched between a journey to Arizona for my mother’s stone unveiling (a traditional Jewish ritual acknowledging one year after a death), and my husband’s knee replacement surgery the day after my birthday — if it were not for Facebook.
There is a lot of public conversation about the meaning of this age of electronic communication, whether it takes away from face-to-face intimacy, or whether it mesmerizes our young into passivity. Some say that use of social media leads to superficiality. On my birthday, however, I was thrilled with each birthday message that came to me on Facebook and via email. I loved the voice messages that I read and listened to on my voicemail. I felt appreciated, loved, remembered, and cared for. I know that Facebook makes it easy, and that my friends and family receive notifications of my birthday. I myself receive those notifications and enjoy sending birthday messages to people I care about, but whose birthdays would otherwise be off my radar. Most of my family live in other cities, I see them seldom, and there have been years in which communication with them was through my mother, who connected with everyone, and told me everything. Similarly, I don’t see friends as often as we would like. But on Facebook, I have a sense of what they are doing, how they feel, what the important events are, and when are their birthdays.
So I believe that community is wherever we find it, that small bites of communication are important and have their place. In fact, that Facebook message can be seen as an appetizer for more contact, can drive a phone call, a visit, and more intimate sharing. I love being part of all my communities.
Find the Medical Counseling Facebook page here.