For some time I resisted to many invitations to be part of Facebook. I set up a profile and soon started to multiply the invitations. Meanwhile, I bought and started to read “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick. The author tells the history of the creation and expansion of the social network in detail, and speaks of the way it became an instrument able to gather diverse people, for diverse reasons, from the idea of a “social diagram”, enabling situations not always imagined by its creators.
On my birthday, I experienced this “Facebook effect” in a way not even I was able to imagine. Throughout the day I followed the way my social diagram moved and got closer to me through a kind message sometimes made up of one or two words only. In the morning there were already more than 20 messages, quickly it was 30, then 50. I went for lunch, some shopping at the mall and it was already 90, making over 100 at night wen I came back from dinner with a few friends. The messages of “happy birthday”, “congratulations”, success” etc. etc. (in several languages), did not fit one or two pages on the screen of my computer.
In the messages and pictures that continuously appeared people I haven’t seen and with whom I haven’t celebrated for a long time. People who I don’t remember in which moment I met or even what connects us (sorry!). People I see everyday or once in a while. People with whom I shared and share important and beautiful moments in my 35 years of age. People who I miss very much and people I miss already for the day we won’t be together so intensively (life takes us to places and times we cannot control, I already learned too much to say goodbye – and it always hurts much). People with whom I lived moments absolutely intense and profound and people who possibly know me only through the texts I have written. On my birthday, all of them met in the universe of this social network, set up spontaneously my social diagram and made me feel an immense happiness, a day blessed by G*d.
I also received messages on the cell phone, emails and phone calls (my mother surprisingly didn’t call at 7 AM to wake me up, nor at 3:45 PM when she swears I was born, but around noon). Other people from my social network maybe didn’t logon Facebook on this day or, as it happens frequently to me, did not notice the birthday warnings for the day (to tell the truth, I don’t know exactly were it is located on the webpage; sometimes I see it, sometimes I can’t find it). Others perhaps don’t see much sense in leaving messages or didn’t think they should have, for whatever reason – I can live with that. Somehow, they were also part of this day, since, somehow, they are also part of my life.
In the morning, I started to answer some of the messages, especially of those people I haven’t seen for a long time or are very far away. Soon I realized it wouldn’t be possible to answer to each one that passed by my “mural” (and, somehow, this reflection is a way to respond to all of them). There were people from several parts of the world (several places in Brazil, Latina American and North American countries, Germany), who I met on my journeys in places were I lived, participated of some congress, some meeting, some visit. People who follow my academic work, who are partners in the process of constructing a liberating knowledge. People from the struggle in the social movements, especially the LGBT movement in several places. People from the militancy in the Workers Party, many of them nowadays occupying positions in governments and struggling to build a public administration that is the reflection and the materialization of social transformation. People from the struggle in theology and the churches, both the ones who stay and confront their unjust and oppressive structures and the one who had to leave, living their spirituality as outsiders or founding their own churches. People who dream and work for another world that we know (as the one who throws himself into the dark in the certainty that G*d will be with him – faith) is possible!
All of you were there, on my birthday, and, although nothing substitutes a hug, a kiss, the physical presence, the warmth of emotion, the trembling of desire, the kindness of a touch (as long as it is not on my hair), this whole movement filled me with deep gratitude and hope. Especially in a moment in which I have made myself many questions (ok, I always make myself many questions) and in which many certainties are put in question, I rediscover my connections and the nets I have built throughout the years and that have built who I am today (and tomorrow I may no longer be). A net constructed with love, with commitment, with struggle, with dreaming. A net some may find idealized, unreal, without effective strength, or unable to produce concrete effects in the lives of people and in the reality of the world. And I know it is not. It is a net constructed with love, with commitment, with struggle, with dreaming and that can change the world – little by little – because it is a net of new renewed relations. Of people who want to make things another way and who know (even when not believing) that it is possible.
On my birthday, and using it as an excuse, I want to embrace all of you, even if in this virtual space of a social network, and say that this is our strength. And this is not a way to make an apology for Facebook or its “effect”, which I am still trying to understand. It is a way to say what I said in a message I posted myself in the beginning of this day:
“It is good to be loved, the struggle is worth, social justice is sexual justice, I want to change the world – little by little, I want to make love (stricto and lato sensu)…”
Until victory comes!