When FaceBook Gets Personal

There’s a lot of hate out here on the internet. In fact, if I want to feel really bad about the state of the world and witness the wretchedness of humanity, I’ll stop by any popular blog and start reading the comments section. (You’ll notice there is none here; I eradicated it long ago, not for excessive trolling or negative things, but for lack of meaningful content and discussion. The compliments were always appreciated, but they too began to ring hollow.) For those sites that do have lively comment sections, it seems that more time is spent policing and patrolling how far we can insult someone else before it becomes inappropriate. I hate that, and for that reason I rarely if ever look at the comments on other websites. The same is true on FaceBook and Twitter, where everyone feels it’s okay to say things they wouldn’t dare say to anyone in person.

Yet once in a while, amid all that negativity and the attacks of people who put up animals or celebrities or inanimate objects as their profile pic, a sliver of hope shines through, piercing the dim abyss of abuse and reminding me of the goodness and kindness that is out there – quieter and less attention-getting than the rest of it.

The other day it came in the form of a FaceBook message from one of my friends. (Now, I have a number of “friends” on FaceBook – and I don’t personally know the majority of them, but most are pretty cool and I’ll engage with anyone who is decent and respectful. I’ll also block you if you’re a cunt.)

His FaceBook page is like many others – random candid shots of vacations in tropical places, adorable pics with a criminally-cute dachshund, and the playful poses and broad smiles that come from being surrounded by friends. There is nothing remarkable or astonishing about it – but in that very ordinariness is the beauty of life. Far more, when someone reveals who they are, or a little glimpse of it in a personal message, there is the forging of a connection. Sometimes these are significant, sometimes they are fleeting, but they always mean something, even if it’s just a little reminder that we are not alone in this world.

I am touched by the simple wonder that each of us holds.

This is how his message read:

Hi Alan,

I was talking to a mutual friend last night, and I was explaining to him how you shared your coming out story with me when I was coming out. I’m not sure that I’ve ever told you, but I am forever grateful for your wisdom and support during that time. I was in a very bad place at the time, though few people truly knew the internal battle I was fighting. The struggle led me to become depressed and there were times that I wanted to end my life. After back and forth messages with you I realized that I could have a great life; that I could be like you – loved and admired by so many. That act of kindness on your behalf made a huge difference in my life. I had been waiting until I had the words perfect so that I could accurately express my gratitude. For many years I had a draft letter I wanted to send to you saved on my computer. I was unable to locate it. This message is not nearly as profound as I wanted it to be, but it will suffice.

After coming out to my family and few friends, I was embraced with support. This was something that I wasn’t expecting. Thanks to you, I had the courage to face my fear and to become proud of who I was instead of being ashamed of it. Words cannot express how you changed my life, and I’m very thankful for it. I’m not sure if you even remember, but I do. You changed my life for the better and I just want to make sure that you know.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you.



I was moved by such a genuine, earnest message. I wrote back and asked if he would be willing to let me post it here, and he agreed. It is done not out of vanity or self-reverence (see the rest of this site for that) but out of a heartfelt wish that we can all treat each other as kindly. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and why I will continue to do it for as long as I can. Thank you, Bryan, for reminding me that some things I’ve done have mattered, and for being one of the bright spots in this FaceBook world.


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