I do enjoy a bit of Facebook. The exchange of news, views and general information. It’s a place for sharing, and it can be quite an education, in a social media kind of way. People love to share, and they love to share for a variety of reasons. Pure generosity, uncontrollable enthusiasm, loyalty to the cause, etc, etc. But nothing gets shared quite as quickly or widely as the news of someone’s death. It’s customary, when one of these announcements pop up, to react with a sad emoji, or leave a short comment by way of a condolence. Easy enough if the dead person is a name you know. David Bowie, Bruce Forsyth, Alan Rickman. More recently, Cyrille regis, Jimmy Armfield, Dorothy Malone, Bella Emberg, and Peter Wyngarde.
Then there are people you feel you should know, Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, Jim Rodford, bass player with The Kinks, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke of Motorhead. Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues, for goodness sake. He played the flute solo on Nights in White Satin! So, for these people, it’s just a sad emoji, and no comment. Which feels like you’re short-changing the poor souls, but there you go.
Finally, the individual luminaries that you’ve never heard of in your entire life, yet almost everyone else seems broken beyond belief at news of their passing. I’m holding my hands up and saying here and now, in the jigsaw of my existence, there are great gaping spaces where these giants should fit. Which means that recently, I have discovered an Ursula K. Le Guin shaped piece missing, not to mention the Nicanor Parra piece which would, I suspect, go a long way toward completing the Chilean poet part of the picture. Actually, that’s not true. Virtually all the Chilean poet pieces are missing or lost. Some may have been eaten by the ghost of Rin Tin Tin.
Well, I said Facebook can be an education. My education, these days, seems to consist more and more of Googling newly departed ‘names’, previously unknown to me.
Eventually, I might be able to award myself an Albert Einstein emoji. After all,didn’t he claim, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”?