Why I Don’t Have Many Friends: Aren’t Old People Supposed to Die?

Facebook, the Ground Zero of shallow comments, disposable sincerity and vapid insights is abuzz with news of Nancy Reagan’s passing. And everybody says they are sorry. Or sad. Or that it’s a sad day. Whatever.

It’s not that I wished the woman ill. I didn’t wish her anything. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that I haven’t had a wish or a thought about Nancy Reagan for at least 20 years. I couldn’t have even said with any certainty that she was still alive. Until today. Now I am pretty sure she’s dead.

I am also pretty sure that most other people, even Americans, have been similarly unaware of Nancy Reagan’s comings and goings for the past 20 years. And that, even when she was First Lady, most of the people now expressing mourning and condolences to the world in general weren’t all that interested in her.

So why is everyone sorry and sad now?

I mean, she was 94 years old. How long is she supposed to live? 94 is a good stretch by almost any standard. I understand she had friends and family, and for them it’s going to be tough to say good-bye, of course. But for the rest of us? Why do we have to act sad when somebody who we never thought about dies at a comfortably old age in normal circumstances?

It smells of fake sincerity to me. Maybe it’s just politeness, but politeness would be saying that to her family members or close friends, who might actually be mourning. Just announcing to the world in general that one is sad, sorry, sympathetic strikes me as bullshit. Sorry.

Let’s bring it to celebrities who I do somewhat care about, like David Bowie. In his case, he died at what should have been a still-spry 69. And he died just after calling attention to himself by releasing new material. Which I think was planned on his part. The man didn’t want his death to be greeted by “Bowie? I wondered what happened to him.” Or worse, “Bowie was still alive?” He was a showman, and he wasn’t going to slink off the stage unnoticed.

So I was surprised, having just downloaded his new material. He was huge to me when I was a kid looking for role models, and I loved his music. So certainly I should have been as moved as the millions of people that went on Facebook to announce their sadness and proclaim his sorely missed genius. Mostly people who weren’t especially fans in the first place.

I could announce my feelings, but to do it in the cold emptiness of social media seems like puffery. That’s just me.

I won’t even get into how I despise Facebook birthday greetings.