What got me started thinking and writing about communication methods yesterday was a feeling somewhere between sadness and guilt. Nice combo, huh? You see, my email inbox has a pile of messages from friends that I truly care about, some I truly love, that I want to respond to, but there is ‘never enough time’. So I feel guilty and sad.
I miss being in touch with these individuals, some of whom I have known for 30 or 40 or even 50 years and each of whom holds a special place in my life story. I dream of making plans to see them, especially the ones that are more local, but it can take me days, weeks or months to manage to write an email! What is up with that? I think longingly of the simpler time I wrote about yesterday, when face-to-face was the way we communed.
Yes, life is full and busy. Yes, after more than half a century of meeting people and forging connections, there are a lot of folks to try and keep up with… Yes, it is all about priorities and choices of how I spend my time. But what do they think and feel when my response is so delayed? I can’t bear to think of them feeling slighted, unappreciated or angry. At the same time my head throbs when I even imagine trying to ‘catch up’ on all these emails, much less sending the handwritten notes I would like to pen.
Facebook? Yoicks . [Footnote: I love the sound of ‘yoicks’ and I enjoy writing it too. Want to know what the dictionary has to say? ‘An exclamation, used by fox hunters to urge on the hounds; of unknown origin.’]
Okay, Facebook. Virtually none of my closest friends are on FB. That could tell me something. These are women with whom I feel safe to share all kinds of messy shit that comes up from inside of me. Well, FB, in my humble opinion, is not the place for that kind of soul bearing. Others folks, many other folks, obviously don’t share that opinion. No matter.
Why am I ‘on’ Facebook? Two reasons, or maybe three. One is that it has given me a small window into the world of the millennial children (now young adults.) The same can be said of YouTube, I guess. It may sound strange, but it’s the same sense of understanding another generation as what I have regarding the big band music of the 1930’s and 40’s, which is my link to my parents WWII generation. Both offer me a comforting sense of who came before (and spawned) my baby boomer generation and who will follow us into the unknown, sometimes scary sounding future.
A second reason is that for her sixteenth birthday, my daughter ‘friended’ us, her parents. That was an unexpected honor; a gesture of trust, opening some of her personal life to us that I will always treasure. Granted, she and many of her generation now use other electronic methods of connection more than FB, but it is still used as a place to make public announcements.
So, I feel ‘in the loop’ to some extent, or at least as much as I want to be. I virtually never post on FB. I don’t even respond by ‘liking’ things very often. But I do enjoy a lot of the random comic & inspirational video links and quotes people post. Like the unanswered emails, I generally don’t ‘have time’ to watch these offerings, but sometimes I do.
The third reason is probably most germane to the topic. I have ‘Facebook Friends’ with whom I attended high school or that I worked with at a long ago job. Again, I don’t post much, but I get a kick out of hearing about their lives, even if it is not personally from them to me. Photos and milestones of their children and grandchildren, weddings, vacations, news clips and art from around the world that they have chosen to share… oh, and political opinions. Those can be very mixed. It seems that a lot of the people I knew in high school are now (maybe always were) quite conservative, which I find annoying. So it goes.
I want to thank my friend Em, an awesome, longtime blogger, (see Em-i-lis) who posted a comment here on EAW a couple of days ago, sharing her experience: “I’ve been repeatedly surprised, often thrilled and sometimes saddened by the friendships that remain as well as those that have faded.” It’s gotten me thinking in terms of the basic story line – beginning, middle and end – of friendship.
An interesting footnote to this blog post: I have never met Em in person. We met through an online writing course and, along with two others from that class, have built our friendship electronically and telephonically. Yep, wonders never cease, even for me, a blogging boomer.