One day, a few years ago, I got on Facebook and found out that someone I knew and cared about had died.
We weren’t in close contact. She lived in a different country, and while I’d seen her a few months previously, we had barely spoken. There’s a small chance I might have seen her again someday. A much greater chance I would never have seen her again at all. And then she died, and even though it’s been over four years, some days I still get pretty down about it.
Without Facebook, I might never have known the end to her story. Some days I’m grateful. Somedays, not so much.
In the past, most of us lived our lives blissfully ignorant of the ultimate fate of our brief acquaintances. We had to work to maintain our distant connections. We had to really care in order to find out what happened to them. Now, our past relationships—however transient the connection in person—live on well past their expiration date. Until they don’t.
I recently culled my Facebook friend group for possibly the first time. My criteria was: if you died tomorrow, would I care?
I went from 498 friends to 473.
That’s a lot of people who could die and make me sad. But also a lot of people who have touched my life for the better. So I’m trying to make a habit of remembering why I keep these connections in my life. If I see someone’s shared an interesting article, or gone through a major life event, or liked my post, I take a few seconds to think about that one positive memory that keeps them on my friend list:
That class we took together.
The taxi ride we shared.
Those few months we were coworkers.
The drink they bought me which I never managed to reciprocate.
There’s a lot in the world to be scared about these days. A lot that can tear you down and rip you to pieces. So keep your friends close, and forget about your enemies.