Connection with Dale

An encounter on Facebook made one writer look at social networking in a new light

Barbara Steinberg is a resident of Sacramento and blogs as the California Travel Insider.

The word of the day is reconnected.

“I just reconnected with so-and-so!” It’s the latest thing, thanks to the magic of Facebook and the great pastime called “social networking.” Honestly, I never understood the phenomenon, or the fascination with spending hours and hours recounting pointless bits of information. Was this really reconnecting?

But a recent Facebook encounter has me looking at social networking in a whole new light. It also has me asking some big questions of the universe.

Recently I decided to attempt a modern-day, Facebook reconnect with a friend from the past named Dale H. The two of us met in 1986, dated briefly and then went our separate ways.

Thursday, December 3: Just a few keystrokes and poof! Simple! I located Dale on Facebook and sent him a message.

Friday, December 4: Dale responded. He was happy to hear from me and provided a phone number. We made voice contact. He was living in Los Angeles but spending time in Sacramento caring for his elderly parents.

Saturday, December 5: We are supposed to get together, but missed the opportunity. He had things going on.

Sunday, December 6: We spoke again and say we’ll hook up sometime in the next week or two. Maybe breakfast at the Fox & Goose where we met 23 years ago?

Wednesday, December 9: My cell phone rang. “This is Barbara,” I said.

A woman’s voice asks, “Do you know Dale H.?” I said yes.

“This is his daughter,” the voice told me. “I wanted to let you know my dad died this morning.”

Needless to say, I was stunned. Dale was a young man, just 51 years old.

I was left to wonder, “Why? Why now? Why Facebook?” Was this another case of “Be careful what you wish for”? Or was there some other ultimate social-networking lesson to be learned?

Esoterically, a friend told me, “Somehow, he reached out to you to find him.” And I liked that explanation and that idea that, somehow, the phenomenon of social networking brought us back together, even if just for a moment. His family didn’t know who to call and found my number on his cell phone. I had a few people I could reach to let them know what had happened to Dale—some, strangely enough, through his Facebook account.

I have told this story of my ultimate social-networking experience repeatedly to family, friends and strangers. Thanks to Dale, I now say to everyone: If there’s someone out there you’re missing … someone you have wanted to find—reach out and reconnect. Don’t wait!