Twitter, Grief and Three Suns

It’s fair to say I’ve neglected my blog recently, which doesn’t bode particularly well on month four! My life has suddenly become hectic again, and the subject matter is also something I have wrestled with a little. It’s as if I’ve been mentally writing this piece for a few months now, without actually putting hand to keyboard, for fear of typing the wrong thing. I’m still struggling now…

After I returned from last year’s sojourn overseas, I decided to have a Spring clean of my Twitter contacts – a laborious task for most folk. Whilst trawling through my (overly) long ‘following’ list I noticed a man I hadn’t spoken to in a few months, and so I thought I’d send him a quick tweet to say hi. After clicking through to his feed I noticed that his last tweet had been sent some months before, and was in fact a retweet of an article I had linked to. As I scrolled further down his feed it became increasingly apparent why he hadn’t been active on Twitter, I started to get that sinking feeling.

Now, I had known that Rob was undergoing chemotherapy, but fool that I am, I had naively assumed it was for some ‘minor’ type of cancer – I mean, this man was only around 40! After some further digging I found that my fears were confirmed – Rob had indeed passed away. This news was so shocking to me, and I still feel incredibly sad about it. I can’t profess to knowing him personally, but he was a guy I enjoyed catching up with on Twitter; someone who seemed interesting and pleasant. At first I felt somewhat fraudulent at my grief, but as time has passed I’ve realised that he did touch my life, no matter in how small a way, it’s still significant. After all, is that not what life is all about – reaching out to people?

I still haven’t quite processed how I feel about the fact that his last tweet ties to me, especially given the content itself is somewhat innocuous. There was no great declaration or dramatic exit, but more a silent shuffle stage-left. Perhaps, though, that’s more appropriate? It all seems to have happened so quickly, though I’m sure that wasn’t really the case at all, especially for Rob. What I do know is that I am grateful for social media, that it allows me to meet, virtually or otherwise, a wealth of lovely people. The way the world is now connected is truly something to marvel at, and when people tell me I am addicted, or ‘spend so much time Facebook/Twitter’ etc, I don’t think it’s a negative thing! Social media allows people of all personality types to become sociable creatures, and to interact with their fellow human, and to me that’s beautiful.

So, to Rob – thank you for being in my life. I’m pretty sure there are now three suns on Tatooine.

Here’s an article about managing the social networks of those who have passed away: Social Networking After Death