Now that Christmas has fallen half way out of the day—I imagine it on its edge, sliding off all those cards that wish, so blandly, “Season’s Greetings” (and what are they?)—I am coming to terms with the usefulness of Facebook.
I admit I have for a long time ignored its regular messages on my screen, which often seem like demands. All those strangers who want to be my friends—why should I acknowledge them? Not one of them explains to me why he or she wants to make a connection.
I’m quite open to people who drift into my life—my real life, the one I live here on earth, people I can see, talk to and even touch—but these names on my screen have no substance. They seem to me like fish floating by in one of those tanks we used to see in seafood restaurants.
Well, I was wrong, and it was proved to me, painfully, this cold dark Christmas morning.
I’d forgotten my password—again—and so when the Facebook signals started arriving, before anyone else was sending me I started to delete them as fast as I could, as I delete those maddening sheets of ads and coupons that drop out of the middle folds of newspapers.
But to delete them, I had to have a password, so I “created” (what a use for that word) a new one.
This brought a flood of names, requesting that I be their friend. I recognized two or three among the fifty or so, after which I gave up. There may have been dozens more on the endless list.
Well, now I have fifty new friends (I’m resisting “so called friends”) and I’m wondering if that makes this dark cold Christmas morning any less dark and cold.
I don’t think so. Sometimes in a crowd I will feel an elbow, or shoulder, or knee, passing within brushing distance, but that doesn’t feel particularly companionable.
Nor does the presence on my screen of fifty unknown “friends.”
But then something new happened—or new to me.
Several of these names bloomed into a question: they wanted me to supply THEM with friends, and a list of possible names and faces followed.
I was astonished. Who ever admits, even in the anonymity of the screen, to wanting or needing friends?
Since I didn’t know any of the suggested names, I couldn’t suggest adding one or the other.
That didn’t matter much. Others would probably fill the blanks.
What did, and does, matter to me is the opening of the question: CAN YOU SEND ME SOME FRIENDS?
Was this the real question the sheep posed when she wandered up to the manger on Christmas night?
Or was one of the wise men really hoping not only to see the Christ Child but to find a friend?
It is not a petty request, or one lacking consequences.
No matter how many friends I have—and I am blessed with many—I want to jump out the door into the predawn darkness and shout,
“CAN YOU SEND ME SOME FRIENDS?”