Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Today, I lost a lot of friends

Earlier today, I took a few hours to do a task I have been dreading, but I knew had to be done.

As the Turner Report and the Inside Joplin blogs have increased readership, the increases have been reflected in the number of Facebook friends I have.

The number has increased through the Joplin Tornado coverage, then the coverage of the fall of C. J. Huff and the departure of Mike Woolston, Mark Rohr and Wallace Bajjali. Another spike came with the 2016 coverage of Ace Mohr and some scandals surrounding Dean Dankelson.

The last few months with the murders of Jayda Kyle and Jonathan Munoz-Bilbrey and the arrest of a Newton County deputy on felony child abuse charges have pushed my number of Facebook friends dangerously close to Facebook's limit of 5,000.

So today, I began unfriending people.

At first, I was going to get rid of everyone who did not have a photo, but that would have sent Mom packing and I was uncomfortable with that prospect. My older sistcr Vicki also does not have a picture with her account and neither do a couple of my friends from Lamar, former Fire Chief Bill Rawlings, who always comments on my Facebook page when I write about the St. Louis Cardinals in the summer and Dorothy Parks, who was the typesetter and a fountain of knowledge about Lamar and a stickler for accuracy when I was sports editor of the Democrat in 1978.

Those people stayed, but nearly everyone else without a photo was unfriended.

I also got rid of most of the businesses and all of the duplicate pages for people who for some reason abandoned their earlier Facebook pages, but never got rid of them.

I eliminated a person I saw who had only one friend. I felt guilty about that since I was costing this woman her only friend, but something tells me this was not a legitimate Faceb fiook page anyway.

A number of politicians bit the dust, though I kept every one of them who had actually talked with me in the past. For the sake of their reputations, I will not reveal their names.

The most difficult ones to unfriend were people who did not deserve such treatment, people who once were part of my life, but who are no longer with us.

As I unfriended them, I had fond memories of my former students Shelby Shumaker and Brendan Garrett.

T. J. Bowman was the second student I met when I began my first teaching job in the fall of 1999 at Diamond Middle School (his sister Maggie was the first). He was one of a group of eighth grade boys who came over to my trailer classroom during the lunch period every day to watch black-and-white reruns of The Andy Griffith Show on KODE, the only station the old television could receive.

Ryan Baker wrote an extremely thoughtful letter to me when budget cuts ended that job in Diamond at the end of the 2002-2003 school year. He was in my class in seventh and eighth grade.

J. R. Polen was in my first and second hour classes (writing one hour, reading the other) during my first year at South Middle School in 2003.

None of them remained on my friends list when I was done. It was not easy.

Nor was it easy to see the names of so many others who were Facebook friends of mine, but who have died since I opened my account in 2008.

-John Wagaman helped me open my checking account at Barton County State Bank in 1982. The bank has been through several name changes since then, it is now U. S. Bank, but I still have the acccount. John also served his country proudly during World War II.

-Robin Robbins was two years ahead of me at East Newton High School and was an old friend from Newtonia.

-Mike Camerer played Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in the East Newton High School 1973 performance of the musical "Anything Goes." I played Moonface Martin, Public Enemy No. 13. Mike was a good friend for years and was that rarity- a Democrat in Newton County.

-I remembered the conversations I had on football sidelines with Levi Morrow, who covered games for the Lamar Democrat while I was covering them for the Carthage Press.

-One of my favorite lawyers, Jim Spradling, who always had time for a reporter and was a colorful State Senate candidate losing a close one to Marvin Singleton.

-When I was umpiring at Granby, I always appreciated Tom Channel, a solid defensive catcher who never let a ball get through him and hit the umpire.

-My East Newton Class of 1974 classmates Sherry Sappington, Debbie Joel Edmonds and Penny Williams were on the list. I had great memories of all three of them.

-Michael Jarrett, Ellen Gamble, Darrell Robertson, Shirley Lambert- all gone much too soon.

And now no longer on my Facebook friends list.

My friends list is now below 4,500, meaning I should have at least a few months before I have to repeat the process. I hate to even think of what steps I will have to take the next time.

Hopefully, there won't be many that will unfriend because they are no longer with us. It was nice to relive the memories I had of some wonderful people, but my Facebook page sure seems empty without them.

(Note: I have corrected this post. For some reason, I wrote Shirley Gollhofer's name when I meant to write Shirley Lambert. Shirley Gollhofer is thankfully still with us.)


Anonymous said...

Hate to hear this I do not have a picture but I do follow you.

Virginia Macha said...

Some of those names are familiar so I would say we have more in common than being Facebook Friends. I too face the same thing when I change phones and Contacts are transferred. Some of those numbers I keep just to remember someone that did great things in my life, so be it silly or not, a heart does struggle with life and with the alternative. Great Post!

Anonymous said...

Memories are grand

Unknown said...

That had to be tough for you! I have a small collection of dead people in my friends list, I couldn't bare to let go. One of my friends "poked" me then died a couple days later. I'm glad I didn't poke back. I enjoyed reading your special memories. That is a sweet memorial to the ones you lost ❤

Anonymous said...

No picture either but will continue to follow you.

Steve Baker said...

Randy, my wife handed me her phone this morning and said you need to read this. Shelby and Ryan-daughter and son, gone way to early in life. Glad you knew them both

Paid Subscription said...

My old address book is a trip down life's path. Sure glad there aren't limits; except it's so obsolete they don't make page refills anymore! Thanks for being real, Randy. I don't do Facebook, but follow you here. Your work's important.