1.5 Billion Feet Under

I’d chosen the least offensive stock ringtone Apple has to offer as my alarm. Slow Rise it’s called. It’s like waking up to the theme song of an HBO Melodrama, one where perhaps Michael C. Hall and Hodor run a chiropractic clinic in a Floridian retirement community and each aged back they realign tells a story accompanied by a period piece flashback of love, loss, redemption, some watered down social commentary, and loss again. Or something like that. After telling the alarm to snooze my device blinked––a Facebook notification. It’s so-and-so’s birthday, help them celebrate by sending them a message. It took a moment for my groggy morning mind to focus and place so-and-so’s name. Then I did. So-and-so is dead.

So-and-so has been dead for years and this ubiquitous, all-knowing social network wanted me to wish them happy birthday. Have they not developed an algorithm to track our mortality yet? It seems simple enough, once someone stops declining Candy Crush invitations they’re probably dead. What would I even say anyways? HBD, hope all is good down there. LOL. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t wish them well if they were alive. Not because I didn’t like their corporeal selves, but because I didn’t really know them. I only remember them as set dressing from my childhood. We had no connection besides this digital one where we’re both just collected stats confirming some arbitrary measure of social status. And that connection also means I have access to this relative stranger’s forever digital tomb. I once spent hours trying to find my stepdad’s headstone in a sprawling Victoria graveyard where I trudged through well manicured lawns, whispered two sentences to the dirt, and left. If he’d been alive when Facebook was around I wouldn’t need hours to find him, he’d only be a URL away. Hopefully they don’t let you wear that shirt wherever you went, I could have commented on his profile picture.