I am taking a self-imposed sabbatical from Words With Friends. I stopped cold turkey recently, when I noticed the feature chronicling the availability of my fellow WWF playmates. While some had engaged in the game just 20 minutes before, a good number were ranked as having last played the game “over two weeks ago.” Whatever the reason for inactivity (reclaiming one’s time, boredom with or recovery from addiction to the game) this broad status included those who might have last played, 15 days before, a year before or, even more chilling, because they were no longer alive.
But what prompted my continued rumination on the macabre, was an incident on Facebook, from which I still have not recovered. It was a post by a dear friend, who had died a year before. Whether his account was hijacked by a hacker, or this was someone’s idea of a joke, the impact was disturbing, to say the least. For a split second, I believed he was back, intelligent, witty, literate and alive as ever. But this post from the grave, complete with his recent picture, left me flooded, again, with sadness for my lost compadre. I took no comfort in resuming playing Words with my community of virtual wordsmiths. The sense of “relationships” with former classmates, colleagues sustained only through virtual competition and banter was, suddenly, deeply unsatisfying.