This is a once in a generation idea and the water under the Golden Gate bridge is freezing cold. High stakes have never sounded more daunting. Get rich or die. Forget the trying. That’s how we are told the success of Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of Facebook took shape. Justin Timberlake said so.
It’s difficult to define why, but those two ideas of making money and death are paraded daily on the site now famous for its $80billion valuation. From personal revelations about a new job to users reflecting on the passing of a loved one, a need to stress the most naked of emotions, greed and loss, tell of a generation comfortable with publicly acknowledging their pursuit of happiness and strife.
If Facebook were a classroom, the high flyers would be those announcing their creative projects and achievements to the world. Finished their work early and sure to make a big deal out of how they designed a collage before anyone else. Substitute collage for riches and the approval of others, and reading statuses of those at an Obama address makes sense. Adoration of wealth can be no more obvious than being in the company of the most powerful person in the world. The get rich message estimated to a newsfeed measure.
It’s curious how Facebook users reflect on the death of a loved one. Paying their respects on an anniversary by posting about the event is typical. “What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebration of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.” The better part of a married couple may disagree with this Mark Twain comment, as might the throngs of people who update their friends on the anniversary of a family member. For others, having to read about such mourning can be strange, connected to a grieving process through a friend request. That such a trend is now cultural, opens up the notion that remembrance can be greater than a photograph in a bedroom, but rather presented electronically with an online community that share common ground on loss.
My brother Nicholas died on September 13th 2010. I have no recollection of anything else that happened on that date other than his passing. He was 20 and I 24. It seems the lapse in time between then and now means there will be much less said about that day. About him. That shouldn’t be. Grieving privately and not speaking his name is almost as unfair as his not being here. Facebook changes that. You didn’t know Nicholas. Today marks his 23rd Birthday. Now you know.