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父亲的死让我重新认识了Facebook

Don Reisinger 2019年04月14日

我本来以为对于Facebook这个网站,该知道的我都已经知道了。但直到我父亲于今年2月去世后,我才意识到自己还有很多东西要学。

 
 
图为本文作者的父亲唐纳德·赖辛格。他生前经常使用Facebook与亲友联系,帮助陌生人寻找关于本地历史的信息。图片来源:Courtesy of Don Reisinger

我本来以为对于Facebook这个网站,该知道的我都已经知道了。但直到我父亲于今年2月去世后,我才意识到自己还有很多东西要学。

我父亲名叫唐纳德·赖辛格,今年突发急病去世,享年68岁。父亲的死给我和母亲造成了巨大打击,但我们也并非全无准备。由于多年吸烟,他已经患上了慢性阻塞性肺病,此外他体重超标,心脏也不好。去世前一周,他患上了流感。我当时就在担心他的病情有可能因此恶化。

当我接到电话通知他病危时,我急忙赶到纽约市北部的父母家。虽然医护人员竭尽全力抢救,但不到一个小时,我父亲就撒手人寰。我真不知道该如何向我的三个孩子开口,毕竟他们这么爱他。

几天后,母亲让我在父亲的iPad上找到他的银行账户密码和其他一些账户密码。我顺便还找到了他的Facebook密码。

我是一个非常尊重隐私的人,我一般不会想到登陆父亲的社交媒体账号,他也知道这一点。所以好几年前,他就告诉我,在他死后,他的东西我什么都可以看,包括他的社交账号。如果有必要,我也可以在他的Facebook账号上拍照,或者干任何我想干的事。我想,他可能也是想让我看看,他是如何用Facebook去帮助别人的。

那个时候,我并不是特别支持我父亲上Facebook。他是个很聪明的人,经常喜欢跟人激烈地争辩。他加入了几个Facebook群组,经常围绕每天的热门新闻跟人争论政治问题。有时我觉得他在社交媒体上的表现给人感觉很“尬”,还经常跟我个人的政治观点直接对立。有时我会劝他别争论了,当然,他基本上是听不进去的。

所以当我第一次登陆我父亲的Facebook账号时,我以为肯定会看见铺天盖地的政治争论。当然政治争论也是有的,但他的网络生活远比这丰富多彩。我在Facebook上的发现,让我终于有机会更加深入地了解我的父亲。

我父亲本来是一名销售员,十几年前,他被公司裁员后便退了休。他的晚年生活大半是在室内度过的。他喜欢坐在一张超大的安乐椅上,看纽约扬基队的比赛。我有的时候会带孩子来看他,他也非常宠爱孩子们。当然他也非常爱我和我的妻子。但由于身体状况原因,他基本上只能待在家里,无法接触外面的世界。

我父亲是一个非常喜欢跟人聊天的人,为了跟别人保持联系,他也用上了Facebook。除了在群组里跟人聊政治,他还成了一名当地史学的爱好者,经常帮助来自于全美各地的人寻找那些早就关闭的老餐馆、老商店等遗址的照片和信息。如果你对我们这儿的历史感兴趣,问我父亲就算问对人了。

他会花几个小时的时间研究旧报纸上的文章。如果他找到了别人想要的照片或信息,他就会免费分享给别人。他所要求的报酬,只不过是一句简单的“谢谢”。当然,如果有人夸他的孙子孙女长得漂亮,他也会很高兴的。

我父亲还会用Facebook与一些我压根不认识的亲戚朋友保持联系。他会分享一些陈年往事,比如他小的时候住在城郊的农场旁边,客人来了最喜欢在他家参观小动物(他个人最喜欢的是驴子和臭鼬)。再比如当年他们在后院的水塘里玩水的乐趣。

我父亲一生大部分时间都是一位狂热的摄影师,他经常会大方地将各种亲戚朋友的照片与其他亲友分享。他会花好几个小时找照片,把它们扫描到电脑里,然后发在Facebook上。

在我看他发的贴子时,我意识到,我以前对Facebook和社交媒体的看法,至少是一部分是错误的。对我来说,社交媒体只是一个工具——一半是商业工具,一半是私人工具,而且很多是非都是由它挑起的。

但对我父亲来说,它给了他一个与别人进行和分享的机会。

没过多久,人们就发现我父亲去世了。他最喜欢的几个历史群组的一些成员注意到,我父亲已经有几天没有发贴了。还有一些人看到了他的讣告。很快,大家纷纷表示哀悼。好几个Facebook群组都发表了讣告。很多人都提到我父亲曾经帮助过他们,丰富了他们的生活,看到这些评论,我和我母亲都感到很欣慰。

对他来说,找一张20世纪50年代的学校或者餐馆的照片,是一件很有意思的事情。而对于需要这张照片的人来说。它可能对他们有很重要的历史意义。

我父亲远远不是一个完美的人。有时候,他使用社交媒体的方式是不合时宜的。他争论政治问题的时候太多了,而且经常不听别人说的话。当与反对他的观点的人交换照片时,他有时说话也带有一些侮辱性。

但大多数时候,当他分享那些孩子们的照片和视频的时候,当他帮助那些素未谋面的人的时候,我被他们之间的互动深深吸引住了。这才是我认识的父亲,我也很高兴这么多人有机会认识他。

我父亲在Facebook上的日子,让我对社交媒体的未来产生了新的希望。虽然社交媒体做了很多恶,但人们每天都在用它与别人建立更加坚实的纽带。当Facebook、Instagram、推特等社交平台帮助人们完成这项任务时,它们就兑现了很久以前许下的承诺——虽然这一点经常被人忘记。那就是,社交媒体可以成为一个让大家欢聚的地方。

我父亲显然也是这样认为的。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

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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