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Years ago, whenever Facebook first came on the scene, Principals and Vice-Principals were warned against joining. It would be dangerous, we were told. I understood why then, and I understand now. At the very least, a Principal would be finding out way too much about some of their kids and their families. Parents could have way too much access to the Principal too, and maybe, get way too much information about them.
So I was careful and didn't join. I did join Twitter though, which seemed somehow more professional back then.
Anyway, in 2021, no longer a Principal, I did join Facebook. I thought I was joining to market my book. But soon I was helping to organize my High School alma mater's 100th anniversary reunion. I reconnected with old High School chums, old teachers, certain former students (those I thought not dangerous to 'friend,') and almost any classmate from my time as a student. When my 'kids' found out that I was on Facebook, I began to get 'Friend Requests,' and soon I fell into the Facebook trap. I woke up to find I had 997 Friends.
So close to 1,000... So I did what everyone on Facebook does, . Beg for just a few more. Well, now I have my 1,000, and another 564 who follow my Author page, and I've created a High School Reunion page with almost 2,500 members, and it's all just a little... unwieldy. I can't ever keep up with everything that happens, and I miss people's birthdays, and I seem to ignore friends' significant events. And almost always that's not the case. Facebook lets me know three or four days too late, because I've got over fifteen hundred friends! I'm writing this on the Tuesday after Mothers' Day, and I'm just being told, on Facebook, that it is, indeed, Mothers' Day.
At times this makes me despair of keeping the fifteen hundred friends I've got. "If Dave can't even bother to recognize that we've got a new dog, is he even a friend?" "I posted four days ago how upset I was when the Leafs lost. Dave didn't even send a sad faced emoji. What kind of a friend is that?" I hear them saying.
But. Every once in a while - Maybe once or twice a week - I realize as I'm scrolling, that I've got a huge smile on my face and my heart feels full. Sometimes there's a happy tear or two. I stop, and scroll backwards a bit and see that I've read a number of posts in a row from former students, not directed to me at all, but just to their friends - just to the world at large - and the posts basically just say that everything is okay with them. Their six month old baby has an incredibly cute smile and her face is covered in food. Their anniversary has just happened and they still adore their partner. They've just gotten the job or promotion they wanted. They're going to be grandparents. They're graduating from university or college.
I look at their faces and I'm transported back in time; usually to a very good place. I'm getting a hug from a student as they walk across the stage to get their diploma. I'm watching them take their bows at the end of a play. I'm laughing with them in the hallway. They're asking me a question in class.
Sometimes, I'm transported to a not good place. I'm suspending an angry, angry young man. A child is crying in my office because she's been bullied. And some of these kids are kids I worried about then, and I continued to worry about after they left me, or I left them. I worried about them for years.
And then I see them holding their third baby; or blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, surrounded by friends (real friends, not just Facebook friends) and family; or hiking in Croatia, or talking about their teaching assignment for next year.
My heart fills up, the tears begin to flow, as they are right now, my smile widens and I'm exceedingly grateful for everything. And I feel it's necessary to tell Facebook. Not any person in particular. Not a friend. Just the world at large.