Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Oracle of Facebook

Ever since I got on Facebook, not all that long ago, I've been as enamored of it as you can be with an online application. It's such a leap forward from MySpace that I'm sure the folks at MySpace were shitting themselves the first day it came online. I like to think of Facebook as the MySpace that adults can use. And sure enough, there are many many many adults of all ages who use it. It's got a clean interface, it's super easy and intuitive and it's great at allowing you to browse for connections to other people. In fact, it makes it fun to do so. So much so that people have dubbed it 'crackbook' for its addictive traits.

As a quick aside here, I think the whole analogy of comparing addictive things to crack by putting the word 'crack' into them (EverQuest = EverCrack, Facebook = Crackbook, Cooked Cocaine = Crack) is kinda worn out. But it still gets the point across. Moving on...

I've added a whole bunch of people as friends in the last few weeks and it seems that the more people I add, the more faces I see that I want to add. Like a snowball rolling down a hill (another overworn analogy), the list keeps growing because the more connections I make, the more potential connections I have to add. I've even made a few connections to people that have been coincidental, in the sense that I had past connections with these people I didn't know about.

For example, I recently added an old college girl-friend (a friend who's a girl, not the kind you sleep with and take out on dates who then breaks up with you in a hideous fashion) as a friend. We sent an email or two back and forth and that was pretty much it. She's married now and it's been 15 years since college so there isn't a whole lot to say. A few weeks after that, I got a random email from my oldest brother's *high school girlfriend* (the kind he slept with and took out on dates and broke up with him in a hideous fashion). It was strange that she would have found me because why was she looking for me? Wouldn't she naturally have searched for my brother, who isn't on Facebook, if she was looking to reminisce? When I asked her how she found me, she blew me away by telling me she was married to my college girl-friend's brother! What's more, she married him in 1990, the year I entered college. Which means that the entire time I knew my college girl-friend, her sister-in-law was my brother's high school girlfriend and I never knew it. Freaky.

The whole facebook phenomenon is like playing the Long Island Name Game every hour of every day. It's sick how close of a community you have and don't even realize it.

Another example. I added a friend from high school (also a platonic girlfriend) and as I was browsing through her friends (the best way to expand your connections), I came across an oddly familiar name. It was Jennifer Stevens Madoff. I looked at her picture, and I've never seen her before in my life that I know of, but the last name is the same as that of a friend I had in summer camp way back in 1984. Roger Madoff. Madoff is kind of an unusual last name, and the fact that this girl Jennifer had added her maiden name to her facebook profile would normally indicate that she was married to someone named Madoff (assuming she took her husband's name). But the weird part is her profile said she was in a relationship with someone named Jacob Dickson. Not divorced. In a relationship with someone else. I was confused. I went through the list of Jennifer Madoff's friends and one of them was an Eric Poritzky. Now Eric also went to camp with me so the odds of her being related somehow to Roger increased dramatically. But Roger was not in her friends list and I couldn't find a profile for him on Facebook. Roger was such a cool guy, even way back in camp, that I really thought it would be neat to get back in touch with him. I did another search and found not a profile, but a group called something like "Run for Roger Madoff". Uh-oh. That's not good, right? No one organizes runs for people unless there's something wrong.

Turns out Roger is dead.

I read the description for the group and it seems that my old friend, whom I hadn't seen since I was 13 years old, contracted Leukemia in 2002 and died in 2006. A picture they had of him confirms to me it's the same guy.

I was, and still am, heartbroken. True, this guy wasn't my BFF or anything, but I have such fond memories of us spending time together in camp. We did a lot of great stuff together; softball on the 'B' team, Tennis, camping, hound and hares. Roger was just about my speed at everything and he was one of the more geniunely nice and sweet kids in my group. Besides, it's awful to think that anyone who's in their early 30's would be dead from anything but a drug overdose, car accident or gunshot. There's something unholy about taking a man so young and full of promise as I'm sure Roger was.

This is exactly how I felt when a friend of mine from high school, Jason Dobin, died in 2003 from Cystic Fibrosis at age 31. He was an actor of great promise and the most consistently funny guy I've ever met to this day. His comic timing was actually dangerous and there was more than one instance when a well placed one-liner would cause the car we were in to swerve into oncoming traffic while the driver shook with laughter. What a waste of promise and potential. I feel more sad for the world that didn't get to know him.

Both of them, actually. This might very well be the great defining capability of Facebook actually. It not only keeps us in touch with people we've missed throughout their lives, but it also reminds us that not everyone is still here.

Or maybe I'm just being melancholy right now. It's hard to tell.


Dawn Summers said...

You know, you're awful depressing for amna dating a teenager. Now I'm going to go cyberstalk everyone I've ever known to see if they're dead.

Anonymous said...

Most of the "jamie weinstein"s listed on Facebook are cuties... what's up with that?!!!


Anonymous said...

I'm so depressed now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this-- I once cast Jason as the lead in a show I was producing, back in 1994, and I thought he was fantastic. Every rehearsal was a new delight. He threw himself into the rehearsals so vigorously, however, that he ended up in the hospital. It was pretty serious, even at the time; today I was wondering about him, and I'm grateful to know that he had another decade of life after I knew him.

Anonymous said...

Please read the book by Roger. It's definitely worth the read and it's inspiring, not depressing. Roger was amazing in so many ways. Jen, of course is too!

Melody said...

I just came across this. Jason was a childhood friend of mine (we went to theatre camp together) and got back in touch around 1996 or so. We'd send each other audio tapes instead of letters, and it was always the highlight of my day when I got one; he always had me in hysterics. We lost touch again, and when I tried to find him again, I found his obituary instead. He is a huge, huge loss to the world. I remember him fondly and will always miss him. Thank you for remembering him, too.

Nancy Garero said...

I Never ever found such edifying online