I found out on Facebook my brother is married.

I think the title says it all.

I’ve been pondering and ruminating about Social Media for some time. How do we connect and what does it mean? The most recent events in the life of my familial unit throw into stark relief this digital age in which we live.

It is just… strange.

I’m trying quite hard to banish further judgement or opinions on life choices, but there are the facts: my brother got married last and I found out about it via Facebook.

A wedding brought to you by instagram

Wedding Invitation

“Were you invited to our brother’s wedding BBQ?”


“Yeah, I got a Facebook invite to a Wedding BBQ on Saturday.”

This was last Friday from my youngest brother who is studying abroad here in Florence. It has been wonderful having him here and getting to better know the incredible man he has become in the 10+ years since we last lived under the same roof (not to mention in the same town).

Having family here in person to talk over and, eventually, toast the events of the last week has been especially soothing and helpful.

The picture is my NYC-Aussie couple friends wedding invite which I recived via snail-mail last week and just adore. Again the contrast: My middle sibling and his fiancé of a year had, apparently, decided to visit a justice of the peace and throw the aforementioned soiree the following day – and announced their intentions via Facebook invite.

Our families are wide spread: my parents in one corner of Florida, the couple in another corner, my sister in Georgia, brother and I here in Florence and my new sister-in-law’s mother in Afghanistan. There was talk of a family gathering sometime over the summer when we had all at least returned to the same continent to celebrate a tying-of-hands.

A week’s notice fete, however, was a little bit of a shock — all the more odd for the invite via the social network. I am not being critical of my brother’s choices in bride or marriage here. I just am rather incredulous and reeling from how it all played out.

Over the last week we finnally communicated (by email) and I then watched as posts and pictures popped up of the couple tying the knot. On Facebook.

Again, refer to title. Little strange, no?

Social Networks

I confess I have not always been especially close to my family. They have struggled to understand some of my life choices and, strong willed and self-protective, I haven’t always been the most forthcoming and explanatory.

I even joked with some friends over beers last night that of any of my siblings I would have pegged myself as the one to send an emailed picture from some far off corner of the world of me smiling under a wildflower garland, hands entwined with a tall-dark-handsome, with shaman and mountains in the background, saying “Guess what I just did? Can’t wait for you to meet him!”

So why am I so flummoxed by my this event?

After much reflection, my inner spinnings are not for the event itself, but the way it was communicated. While it amuses me to no end to think of what Emily Post might say, I just never quite expected such a story would come from my family.

I shared a house, meals, shouting matches, laughter, tears, and parental exasperation with my brother. I took it for granted that sharing of major life events would happen… well… differently.

Facebook is how you hear about your far-flung cousins or friends… not your siblings. Right?

Ah, those pesky Expectations, always the harbingers of inner disquiet.

Digital Disconnect

Is this is how digitally dependent — connected but disconnected — we are?

I spend a great deal of time in the online space. Here I sit, spilling my thoughts and feelings onto a blog to be shared with readers far and wide… and unknown. The latest post from Nial Doherty on what he shares on his blog versus not has added further fuel to my ponderings.

Tumblr Photo Posted March 14, 2013 at 08:37PMI share here more of my life then I often do with my family. I’m always a little surprised when I catch myself saying “oh, you didn’t know? Didn’t you see that picture or story? I put it on my blog.”

Know I cast not the first stone.

My friends and life supports — some of which I consider quite close and important to my life — I have only met once or twice in person and communication began and exists primarily via email, Facebook, twitter, blogs and GChat (that includes many of you my dear readers).

What I a trying to reconcile is how I feel connected to these acquaintance-digital–friends, yet I feel so disconnected to my brother’s marriage through shared via the same methods.

Is the Facebook invite any different then the communications of yore? Is it so different then a phone call? A telegram? A post card or letter? A engraved invitation?

Perhaps not.

Am I being a big ole hypocrite in my incredulousness?

Perhaps so.

We, as a family unit, have never wanted for abiding love for and support for each other. Through various skirmishes and distances, that has not changed. Maybe that is all that is important.

I wish I had been able to attend the BBQ celebration. I’ll toast my brother and his bride in person, as I have overseas, as soon as life allows. In my MSIT geekyness I’ll continue to ruminate on social media and the information age.

In the meantime, according to Facebook and instagram, the couple is in wedded bliss.

In the end, I’m happy to see those pictures and have that much participation in their new life together. At least our modern technologies allow me that much. Better than getting a post card or telegram weeks after the event. It is not what I expected mayhaps but is enough for this foreign corespondent.

Sempre Avanti,



  1. A thought-provoking post, Jo. Perhaps you feel so disconnected from your brother’s wedding because he is genetically related or at least family which makes our brains treat siblings as if they are. Plus we have expectations about how these affairs will go down and how as family, we’ll be first to know. But you seem to be handling far better than most would. Your openness and humor on the subject shine through in your post.

    I use FB very infrequently, but when I login, I always find out something juicy;)

    • Thanks CJ. Not only are we genetically related, we look very much alike and yes, it is those type of expectations that when not met, seem to throw us a little off-kilter. I just keep refocusing on the bigger thing: my “little” brother is married! And I want them to be happy and well. I hope for him/them long walks and talks and loving life journeys. It isn’t so much imporatant how they share that with the world but that it is shared in their life together.

  2. There is something about communicating with people you knew before social media existed that changes things. I don’t appreciate finding out about big life events of my closest friends on the Twitterverse or Facebook Feed either. In some way, I think the feeling is “we’re closer than that”- but maybe that’s a dying concept in the forever changing digital age.

    • Yeah Jen, I think you might be right. In a funny-sad footnote, one of my students came in to my office yesterday (without reading my blog) and said “OMG listen to this…” and then related how one of her aquaintence’s mom found out he got married via a picture of the couple FB and posted a comment saying “nice to have you in the family, I look forward to meeting you sometime.” ouchie. So I guess it could have been worse.

  3. Hello Jo! First I have to say, what a well-crafted line: Expectations, always the harbingers of inner disquiet.

    I find that I am striving for fewer expectations – of others, not myself. I cannot control their decisions or actions, and I, like you, try to wish them well.

    What has happened in my life is that others have tried to impose their views on me (as I am sure happens in everyone who is a living, breathing human): You should have ______, and then I begin to distance myself, for my own inner voice is enough to contend with! -Hope you celebrate soon and all is well!

    • Thanks Tammy! You are completely right about expectations and all of those “should”s. While I think it natural to have some boundaries and expectations with those that we care about, it is equally important to meet and love people where they are and not “should” them/ourselves to alination. All is well and yes, we will celebrate as a family soon!

  4. Dani Buckley says:

    Hey girl – This is a super thought invoking post and I can relate on so many levels. Our friendship is a great example of an almost entirely digital relationship. We met online, communicate online, and only met in person once (though we did jump off a bridge together!) I still continue you a dear friend despite the lack of communication beyond the digital world. However, there is something to be said about close personal relationships – that start and grow off of a social medium. Close friends and family fall into this category… and I do agree that these types of events should be shared to each person individually that falls into this category. It’s just different.

    The best example I can give is my decision to move across the country. It was really important to me that I personally told all of my family and close friends before ever putting something online. I wanted them to hear it from me first (and I think that meant a lot to most of them at least.) I use blogging and social media immensely but I am old school when it comes to sharing news with the people I’m close to. This is true even more now that I live across the country from so many that I love. It’s important to me that I pick up the phone or skype or even write a real letter to share my thoughts – versus them hearing EVERYTHING on Facebook. Though they’ll get plenty of that too!

    Anyways, great post. I always enjoy your honesty. 🙂

    • Thanks Dani! Your insights are always helpful too. I’ve similarly had friends say “don’t post this on FB yet, I haven’t told everyone” which I totally admire and respect.
      It is always a balance between relying on social media to share, find common ground and communicate… and becoming overly reliant on it to substitute for real interaction and personal relationships.

  5. This literally just happened to me. MOre than anything, I am so hurt. I love my brother’s girlfriend now wife, and I would have loved to have sent a gift. The insane thing is that my parents were flown out by my brother, and even my mother and father never said anything. I found out by logging into Facebook to see wedding pictures. Again, I am so happy for them, but it is insane to me that I was never told…especially when I see some of our high school friends were there! My brother and I are 10 days shy of a year apart, so we were close growing up. As a matter of fact, he was my best friend if not only friend for a time. I know we have grown up and essentially grown apart, but my family is still a big family that shares events with one another. Heck, this past Easter we all rented a house in the OBX for a week together, so it’s not like I’m completely out of their lives. It makes me feel like me and my family are after thoughts, especially when I go out of my way to make time to call and keep in touch with my brother. Ugh, and then I guilty that my feelings are hurt, too. It wasn’t my day, it was their day. I just wish I would have been cool enough to be told about it…

    • That really stinks Ali. I can totally understand your hurt and my only advice would be to express to your brother (and parents) what you did well here — that you are happy for them and are/were hurt that you weren’t told such that you could celebrate with them fully. Otherwise, try to concentrate on the positive and keep trying. That is what I am choosing to do and, however imperfect, I think it the right course.

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