I've moved around more than most. I've lived in four countries, two provinces, a canton, a district, four states (worked in six), twelve municipalities (pop 700 to 1 million) and made a large number of friends and acquaintances along the way. Of course, this also means I've moved away from a large number of friends and acquaintances as well.
Facebook has helped me reconnect with people I've known and cared about in real life from India to Sweden and all ports in between - west to east - north to south. (Inland Asia is still unchartered friend territory so far.
In any case, I had a close friend for about ten years (my 'starving artist' days) who I just reconnected with - not via FB but via friends on FB. Back then I would have told you I was an eclectic metro pagan. Mostly I was an existentialist seeking the spiritual without the religiosity attached. He was a kind of poser zen buddhist - also seeking something a little more accessible than a skydaddy.
What just happened was kind of weird - it should have hurt a little more I think. My therapist (who I was seeing during the collapse of my marriage) explained that friends who we no longer see and may never see are the 'unmourned dead.' They may not actually be dead - and they may. But, because they were alive when I last saw them, losing them didn't get the same overt emotional attention that those who die do.
Then FB came a long and even though I have friends who are 48 who I still think of as 17 - I get daily to weekly 'proof of life' and have even hooked up with a few when we, otherwise, wouldn't have known we were in the same town for one reason or another.
But this close friend of mine started sending me emails that said nothing more than 'be well' and then included forwards from his father and other redneck, teabagger types. At first I thought it was a joke. But they kept coming. One had 'photos' of the skeletons of 'Giants' supposedly unearthed somewhere in the former Soviet Union, another had Ben Stein explaining how Obama sold our freedom down the river, and other total fundie crap.
So - finally I sent him this email:
hey bud. I welcome emails from you - your heart, mind etc.
However, I am an atheist who thinks Ben Stein is an ass and a hundred years was way too long to wait for this country to understand that medicine for everyone makes sense for everyone - so please don't send me any more of this twaddle. No offense.
In any case - you be well as well. (names excluded to protect identities)
Now, that might sound a tad harsh - but keep in mind that we spoke pretty directly to each other for about a decade - and he had not composed a single email - just forwarded. Also, I always thought the type of crap he was forwarding was twaddle and we would both laugh at it. Nevertheless, he replied with:
please do not contact me anymore , I no longer want to be your friend thank you (names excluded because he didn't use any)
So - that's that. 3000 miles and almost a dozen away and I really don't know the back story. I have to wonder if he got himself a substance abuse problem and then got out of it by taking up with something nearly as bad. Something. In any case - wow - might have been better to remember him like the last time I saw him - a crazy intuitive artist - capable of being annoying as hell - also incredibly insightful. Alas, lost a friend to the crazies. I'll probably be visiting the dozens of other people I know and many I love back there in the next couple of years. Not him. Too bad.
Better figure out how to mourn. Lost a friend to god, or Ben Stein, or Bilblical Giants, or latent racism ... or something. Wow.