When you live far away from your friends, it’s hard to stay connected. Facebook used to be good for this: as long as people were posting updates, I could feel like I wasn’t that far away. Lately though, it seems like the people I know have stopped using Facebook so much, and consequently a lot of my news feed is taken up by George Takei, whose posts have taken a downturn of late. He used to post pretty funny, sometimes subversive stuff, now it seems to be just another aggregator. But I digress.
The point is, I loved Facebook when people used it. I get to see birth announcements and wedding announcements and keep up with my former students graduating and going out into the world. Now more people use Instagram or Twitter, but those aren’t very helpful for keeping up with more personal news–they feel too public to me. And more problematically in this scenario, my closest friends don’t seem to use Facebook very much. In fact, when my son was born a couple of months ago, one friend looks at Facebook so little that she didn’t realise I had him. Meanwhile, I relied on Facebook too heavily and didn’t send a birth announcement email.
Such is the difficulty in staying connected in the modern age–we can access each other instantly across the whole world, but everyone has to agree on the platform. I have kept some of my oldest friends because we don’t have a constant need to stay connected–we were happy to reunite after a semester of college and catch up on everything. Even today, they’re happy to meet me when I’m in town and we catch up on everything. It’s just that those visits are few and far between, and so right now I only know half stories–one friend moved to Brooklyn when I thought she would never leave Manhattan–I’m dying to know why that move happened. Another has finally managed to get her own place on the Upper East Side and I’m curious to know if living alone suits her as well as she thought it would.
The obvious answer would be to write an email, as that’s how we mostly communicate. But I’m at the point now where there’s so much to say I hardly know where to begin. I’ve always felt more connected to people when I know the little details, and it’s been so long there’s only time for broad strokes. I miss those friends though.
All too often in my life, I’ve let connections fall by the wayside. I’ve left letters unanswered and never replied to emails, and thus people I very much wanted to keep close I lost–my friend Travis who was on my study program in France, my colleague Maureen who was kind and who I had great respect for and loved talking to. Rather tritely, I suppose the answer is to simply make time and write that email. After all, I’m writing this blog, so…
Of course the problem is the cycle: I have a queue of emails and texts I’ve needed to answer for ages but haven’t. I want to write and send them, but then there’s the embarrassment–it’s been too long. How do I explain that? If I don’t have an explanation, do I have any right to send a message as if I’m not completely thoughtless?
Alternatively, I could just chill out and write, couldn’t I? And ultimately, that would probably be the best course of action. If I get a message out of the blue, I’m not reproachful, I’m happy. So why shouldn’t I apply the same logic to messages I send as well as receive. And while I’m writing those emails, maybe it would be good to agree on a communication platform so I could What’sApp them more frequently.
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