In Memoriam: Death of a Mentor

Monday, September 6, 2021


Francis D. "Proinsias" Faulkner, PhD
I'm not quite sure what event or thought crossed my mind yesterday to cause me to think about him. I've been having a personal "quarrel" with social media (primarily Facebook) since the final days of the annus horribilis known to almost all of us as 2020. The constant skirmishes with people that I used to remember being somewhat smart and collegial had me pull away from my primary window to the outside world at the height of the worst pandemic event our planet has witnessed since the Spanish Flu outbreak just over 100 years ago. Scrolling through countless "shares" about the coronavirus, the conspiratorial aftermath of the then-recent US presidential election, and the toxic mingling of the two into incoherent uneducated gibberish pushed me to the point where I would only give the site occasional glances to check in on the lives of those I was connected with through that platform (I would later go even farther, removing all of my personal information except for my name). Because this 21st century version of the "town square" concept was the only way to keep tabs on some family members and close friends, I could not go through the final act of deleting the account completely.
When I was on good terms with Facebook, one of the things I looked forward to annually was the birthday greetings that would come flooding in from a good portion of the 500+ "friends" I have on that site. If one shares their birth date with the public, members can anticipate the well wishes to start (depending on where they lived) as early as the afternoon before the actual day and they would continue sometimes up to a few weeks later in the form of apologetic "belated" felicitations. From the time that we linked there up back in 2014, one of the first ones that would arrive for me would be from Francis (Frank) Faulkner, a man that I considered a mentor, a contemporary, as well as a friend who I met through my University of Massachusetts (UMass) journalism certificate program days. This "earlieness" was due to him taking up residence in the Philippines--12 hours ahead of the US Eastern time zone--in what turned out to be the final years of his most interesting life. Since I removed my data, none of my friends were reminded about my birthday (it's a day in June) and no greetings were received. As it turned out, I would not have received one from him this year anyway because of his passing in late May.