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父親的死讓我重新認識了Facebook

Don Reisinger 2019年04月14日

我本來以為對于Facebook這個網站,該知道的我都已經知道了。但直到我父親于今年2月去世后,我才意識到自己還有很多東西要學。

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圖為本文作者的父親唐納德·賴辛格。他生前經常使用Facebook與親友聯系,幫助陌生人尋找關于本地歷史的信息。圖片來源:Courtesy of Don Reisinger

我本來以為對于Facebook這個網站,該知道的我都已經知道了。但直到我父親于今年2月去世后,我才意識到自己還有很多東西要學。

我父親名叫唐納德·賴辛格,今年突發急病去世,享年68歲。父親的死給我和母親造成了巨大打擊,但我們也并非全無準備。由于多年吸煙,他已經患上了慢性阻塞性肺病,此外他體重超標,心臟也不好。去世前一周,他患上了流感。我當時就在擔心他的病情有可能因此惡化。

當我接到電話通知他病危時,我急忙趕到紐約市北部的父母家。雖然醫護人員竭盡全力搶救,但不到一個小時,我父親就撒手人寰。我真不知道該如何向我的三個孩子開口,畢竟他們這么愛他。

幾天后,母親讓我在父親的iPad上找到他的銀行賬戶密碼和其他一些賬戶密碼。我順便還找到了他的Facebook密碼。

我是一個非常尊重隱私的人,我一般不會想到登陸父親的社交媒體賬號,他也知道這一點。所以好幾年前,他就告訴我,在他死后,他的東西我什么都可以看,包括他的社交賬號。如果有必要,我也可以在他的Facebook賬號上拍照,或者干任何我想干的事。我想,他可能也是想讓我看看,他是如何用Facebook去幫助別人的。

那個時候,我并不是特別支持我父親上Facebook。他是個很聰明的人,經常喜歡跟人激烈地爭辯。他加入了幾個Facebook群組,經常圍繞每天的熱門新聞跟人爭論政治問題。有時我覺得他在社交媒體上的表現給人感覺很“尬”,還經常跟我個人的政治觀點直接對立。有時我會勸他別爭論了,當然,他基本上是聽不進去的。

所以當我第一次登陸我父親的Facebook賬號時,我以為肯定會看見鋪天蓋地的政治爭論。當然政治爭論也是有的,但他的網絡生活遠比這豐富多彩。我在Facebook上的發現,讓我終于有機會更加深入地了解我的父親。

我父親本來是一名銷售員,十幾年前,他被公司裁員后便退了休。他的晚年生活大半是在室內度過的。他喜歡坐在一張超大的安樂椅上,看紐約揚基隊的比賽。我有的時候會帶孩子來看他,他也非常寵愛孩子們。當然他也非常愛我和我的妻子。但由于身體狀況原因,他基本上只能待在家里,無法接觸外面的世界。

我父親是一個非常喜歡跟人聊天的人,為了跟別人保持聯系,他也用上了Facebook。除了在群組里跟人聊政治,他還成了一名當地史學的愛好者,經常幫助來自于全美各地的人尋找那些早就關閉的老餐館、老商店等遺址的照片和信息。如果你對我們這兒的歷史感興趣,問我父親就算問對人了。

他會花幾個小時的時間研究舊報紙上的文章。如果他找到了別人想要的照片或信息,他就會免費分享給別人。他所要求的報酬,只不過是一句簡單的“謝謝”。當然,如果有人夸他的孫子孫女長得漂亮,他也會很高興的。

我父親還會用Facebook與一些我壓根不認識的親戚朋友保持聯系。他會分享一些陳年往事,比如他小的時候住在城郊的農場旁邊,客人來了最喜歡在他家參觀小動物(他個人最喜歡的是驢子和臭鼬)。再比如當年他們在后院的水塘里玩水的樂趣。

我父親一生大部分時間都是一位狂熱的攝影師,他經常會大方地將各種親戚朋友的照片與其他親友分享。他會花好幾個小時找照片,把它們掃描到電腦里,然后發在Facebook上。

在我看他發的貼子時,我意識到,我以前對Facebook和社交媒體的看法,至少是一部分是錯誤的。對我來說,社交媒體只是一個工具——一半是商業工具,一半是私人工具,而且很多是非都是由它挑起的。

但對我父親來說,它給了他一個與別人進行和分享的機會。

沒過多久,人們就發現我父親去世了。他最喜歡的幾個歷史群組的一些成員注意到,我父親已經有幾天沒有發貼了。還有一些人看到了他的訃告。很快,大家紛紛表示哀悼。好幾個Facebook群組都發表了訃告。很多人都提到我父親曾經幫助過他們,豐富了他們的生活,看到這些評論,我和我母親都感到很欣慰。

對他來說,找一張20世紀50年代的學校或者餐館的照片,是一件很有意思的事情。而對于需要這張照片的人來說。它可能對他們有很重要的歷史意義。

我父親遠遠不是一個完美的人。有時候,他使用社交媒體的方式是不合時宜的。他爭論政治問題的時候太多了,而且經常不聽別人說的話。當與反對他的觀點的人交換照片時,他有時說話也帶有一些侮辱性。

但大多數時候,當他分享那些孩子們的照片和視頻的時候,當他幫助那些素未謀面的人的時候,我被他們之間的互動深深吸引住了。這才是我認識的父親,我也很高興這么多人有機會認識他。

我父親在Facebook上的日子,讓我對社交媒體的未來產生了新的希望。雖然社交媒體做了很多惡,但人們每天都在用它與別人建立更加堅實的紐帶。當Facebook、Instagram、推特等社交平臺幫助人們完成這項任務時,它們就兌現了很久以前許下的承諾——雖然這一點經常被人忘記。那就是,社交媒體可以成為一個讓大家歡聚的地方。

我父親顯然也是這樣認為的。(財富中文網)

譯者:樸成奎

I thought I knew everything there was to know about Facebook. But when my father died in February, I realized I had plenty to learn.

My father, Donald Reisinger, died suddenly. He was 68. Though his death shocked me and my mother, it didn’t completely surprise us. He had COPD, a chronic breathing condition caused by decades of smoking. He was overweight and had a bad heart. When he got the flu a week before his death, I wondered whether things were taking a turn for the worse.

When I got the call that he wasn’t well, I rushed to my parents’ home in Upstate New York. The paramedics worked to save him but, within an hour, he was gone. I wasn’t sure what I’d say to my three children who loved him so dearly.

After a few days, my mother asked me to check my dad’s iPad for bank and other account passwords. I also found his Facebook password.

I’m a privacy advocate. Normally, I wouldn’t think of signing into my dad’s social media account. He knew that. So, years ago, he told me that when he died I had his permission to access everything, including his social media accounts. He figured I could take photos or anything else I might want off of Facebook. I also think he wanted me to see some of the ways he put Facebook to work to help people.

Up to that point, I didn’t always approve of my father’s Facebook use. He was an intelligent man who enjoyed a heated argument. He’d join Facebook groups to argue and debate politics on the day’s hottest stories. At times, I found his social media life embarrassing and often in direct counter to my own political views. I asked him to stop on several occasions—a request he didn’t take well.

So, when I logged into my father’s Facebook account for the first time, I steeled myself for the onslaught of politics. The political battles were there but there was a lot more to his online life. What I found helped me understand my dad in a much deeper way.

After being laid off as a salesman more than a decade ago, my father retired. He lived most of his life inside. He sat in his oversized easy chair, watching the New York Yankees. I would bring my kids over and he’d dote on them. The same with me and my wife. But his medical conditions kept him at home, away from the outside world.

So my father, who enjoyed talking to people, put Facebook to work to help him keep connecting with people. Aside from those political groups he joined, he also became an amateur local historian, helping people from around the U.S. find pictures and information on long-closed restaurants, stores, and relics of days long gone. If you had questions about local history, my dad was the man for the job.

He’d spend hours researching old newspaper articles. When he found the requested photos or information, he shared it all at no charge. The only payment he sought was a simple thank you. Compliments about his beautiful grandchildren were also welcome.

My Dad also used Facebook to connect with family members and friends I hadn’t even known about. He would share stories about the past, the animals that people loved to visit at his childhood house near farms on the outskirts of town (the donkey and skunk were his favorites), and the fun they had in the backyard pool.

An avid photographer for much of his life, my dad generously shared photos of random cousins, aunts, and uncles with other family members. He spent hours searching for photos, scanning them into his computer, and posting them on Facebook.

As I skimmed through his posts, I realized that what I thought I knew about Facebook and social media was at least partially wrong. To me, social media was a tool—part business, part personal—that was all too often used to sow discord.

But for my dad, it was an opportunity to connect, to share.

It didn’t take long for people to find out that my dad had died. Some members of the local history groups he enjoyed noticed that he hadn’t posted in a few days. Others saw his obituary. Soon enough, the condolences poured in. Announcements were made in Facebook groups. Both my mother and I loved seeing all of the comments about how much my dad had helped people in ways that enriched their lives.

For him, finding a picture of a 1950s school or restaurant was fun. For the people who requested the information, these were important connections to their own personal histories.

My father wasn’t perfect—far from it. And at times, he used social media in ways he shouldn’t have. He’d debate politics for far too long and choose not to listen far too often. In some cases, when trading shots with those who opposed his views, he could be insulting.

But it was those other times, when he would share photos and videos of the kids, and help people he had never met, that I want to focus on moving forward. That was the father I knew, and I’m glad so many other people got a chance to know him too.

If nothing else, this new view of my dad’s Facebook life gives me some hope for social media’s future. For all of its many, many faults, it’s used every day by people who want to connect and form stronger bonds. When Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites help with those tasks, they live up to their long ago—but often forgotten—promise. They can be great places to hang out.

My father certainly thought so.

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