This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Death on Facebook

As someone who enjoys intelligent conversation, and who is interested in ideas, I decided many years ago to stop using Facebook. It was, and is, the most inane chatter - with "ha ha LOL" usually being the most intelligent thing I usually saw. So I suspended my account, and focused on other things that were more intellectually stimulating. Then someone died.

The person who died was a member of a group that I had been involved with for years, a gardening group. And since I was the webmaster for the group, and familiar with internet stuff, I was asked if I knew how to post information on Facebook to let people know more about this person. About the memorial, about his life. And suddenly it all changed for me.

I restored my Facebook account, and posted about my friend. And suddenly Facebook wasn't just a silly place with silly comments. It was a place where people could gather. And to my amazement, Facebook showed a part of itself that I had never dreamed of. It became a meeting place.

Facebook now has a policy of keeping someone's page after they have died. And I have another friend, who has been gone for a long time now, whose page I sometimes visit. I posted a photo of a plant they had given me, and I told him how well it was doing. I knew that other people would see that post, so I made it clear that the message was to my friend, and that I was aware that he had died. It was a comfort for me, like talking to someone at their gravesite.

Death sucks. It hurts people. And it doesn't matter how much we're told that it's all part of life, it stinks. And people need a way to express their pain, their sympathy, and their loss. And if that's inane Facebook chatter, I'm OK with that.

Why old people hate learning new stuff

It's perfectly normal for people to want to stop being introduced to new stuff because of advances in their age. My favorite expression for this is "dropping anchor" - deciding that you've been forced to learn enough, and enough is enough. For most people it's right around twelve, and I understand. When you're young you have to learn new stuff constantly, every day. It never ends at that young age. Learning a language, learning to read, learning math, learning geography, learning how to ride a bike, the list goes on and on, and it tired me just to think of it.

And once a person feels that they've learned enough, and that they're full up, any attempts to force them to learn anything new can be met with strong resistance. Anyone who has taught school knows that!

Of course, not everyone drops anchor at twelve, some people stop learning at 18, when they finish high school, or in their twenties, after college. There are, of course, rare people who continue to learn in their thirties, forties and beyond, and you may be one of those people!

But eventually, our brains decide enough is enough. It may happen at 80, or 90, or 100, but it does happen. We just aren't made to live forever and function the same way for our whole lives. And that's why I'm a defender of respecting people who don't wanna learn anymore. At a certain point in my life, I know that I'll be that way, and I really don't want anyone twisting my arm. And really that's what you have to ask yourself - not if, but when.

If you've read this far, chances are good that you haven't dropped anchor yet. You may be looking around you and wondering why so many people your age have? And yes, you're weird. How much do you need to learn to function happily in the world? How many books do you need to read? How many languages do you need to speak?

Speaking strictly for myself, I love learning about things that have a reference point for me. Learning just to learn something seems utterly pointless to me. For example, I see no reason to learn Japanese. If I met a beautiful woman who only spoke Japanese, my mind might change, but right now it's an example of something that I wouldn't give two cents for.

I've been lucky doing teaching and training of graphic design and computer software - most of my students have been motivated to learn it. When I've seen someone who just seems to be in the wrong place, and is absolutely miserable, my heart actually has gone out to them. Of course as a professional I couldn't let them know that I understood how they felt, so I encouraged, which to them must have felt like arm-twisting.

If you thought that I was gonna twist your arm to learn something here, you got me wrong. I share, I show, I lead. But only for people who want to go there. My journey continues, and if yours does, too, come along with me - there's so much left to learn!