A friend of mine updated her FaceBook status this week and mentioned that she could understand why people committed suicide.
As you can imagine it elicited many reactions from her FB “friends”–of which I am one.
Some friends, like me, reacted worriedly: as in, “is everything alright?” Others reacted differently, as in “yeah I can too” or “I’ve known someone who’s committed suicide and…”
To be clear, this blog is not a commentary on suicide: it’s not even an essay on it. Suicide is way too complicated a topic for a non-suicide expert like me to tackle. I mention it only because when I talked with my friend later on in the day I was truly worried. I thought maybe she was thinking of….you know. And I was upset–because I love her. And 140 characters on a status update with no visual, audio or back-story on my friend’s day had left me wondering the worst.
It turns out she was fine. She said she’d watched or listened to a report on suicide and it had gotten her thinking. She’d written what she’d written, she said, based on that. I blew out a sigh of relief. Though my friend had never in her life had me wondering about her in that way, I admit to doing so after that update. I mean, life can change in a heartbeat and nothing is a guarantee in this world: as a metastatic breast cancer fighter, I of all people know that.
So I learned a big lesson this week: beware the status update. It ain’t always what it seems to be. Communication via texting, mini-updates and internet conversation can be fraught with emotional distance and interpretation confusion. I for one got schooled this week: which my kids tell me means “I got had, I missed a lesson. I learned something.” That I did.
Presenting ourselves in short cyber-bursts can work of course–until it doesn’t. And I don’t want to worry or try to figure out someone’s state of mind at the click of a status update. Instead of assuming I know what’s going on I’ll be keyboarding “IND” from now on. I just made it up: it stands for I Need Details. That way, if someone is really in trouble they’ll message me, comment to me or (dare to dream) pick up a phone and call me.
If they are fine, then I’ll let it go. Because what someone writes in 140 characters or less isn’t necessarily what it appears to be;
unless of course it is does turn out to be what it appears to be…
in which case IND.