This morning, I received some sad news about a death of a man I knew just about my whole life, but from whom I’d grown distant over the last few years. No need to go into any detail publicly, except to say that I find the situation exceptionally complicated and tragic.
My first instinct, honed over the last 10 or 12 years, is to reach out via my online life. I want to express how I feel. I want to encourage others to make good decisions and always do ‘just so’. I want people to love each other and look out for each other’s interests rather than their own.
But then I remembered a piece I read a couple of years ago in the New York Times. Maureen Dowd interviewed the founders of Twitter, Biz Stone and Evan Williams. One bit stuck with me:
ME: I heard about a woman who tweeted her father’s funeral. Whatever happened to private pain?
EVAN: I have private pain every day.
I suppose we all do. Sometimes we keep it private out of shame. Other times we can’t handle the pressure. Still other times, like in this case, we do it out of respect for other people’s privacy.
Either way, I just need to watch out for the oversharing. But this is okay, it seems to me, because it’s a little more ‘meta’: it’s about the need to refrain from putting too much out there even when we want contact.
I’m going to go give someone a hug now.