I am packing up my wedding dress from year 1980 to send to a friend. It has followed me to 15 homes in five different states, preserved and airtight. In my quest to simplify, I have pondered a way to reduce, reuse, or recycle the dress. Despite its possible bad karma.
I am sending it to her because she wore it in her wedding shortly after I wore it in mine. She married after I did and borrowed it. The dress attended her wedding on my behalf because by then I was in another state, pregnant, and there was no time or money to spend on a trip home. We were friends in junior high and high school–swim team buddies who eventually lost touch. Give or take 30 years later, we have reconnected on Facebook. A friend request, a few messages back and forth, and here I am sending off the dress because she says she’d like to have it.
Would I have reconnected with her and others if I wasn’t spending time on my computer? Why bother to spend time connecting with people long-forgotten with whom I now have little in common other than having shared another time or place? And why invest in new connections with people I’ve never actually met at all?
At the least, I am entertained, informed, enriched, cheered, provoked, inspired and restrained by my digital time. To those who tire of my posts and my updates: I tire not of yours. I like seeing your dogs, your children, your grandchildren, the meal you ate yesterday, the deer in your backyard, the walls you painted pink, the recap of your day, the travelogue of your vacation, the color used in your last pedicure, your check in at the marina in Boca Raton, the link you found interesting, the inspiring quote you’d like to share. I like reading about what touched you today as much as I like reading about what you remember as significant from 30 years ago. I like reading about your travels, your troubles, your thrills. I enjoy some of your jokes, many of your videos, most of your words, all of your ideas. Even your drivel. And whether you lurk or stalk, whether you like or comment or not, post prolifically or rarely: I enjoy our conversation.
I enjoy conversing with the friend who drove me around in her convertible in high school: You were fun then and I can see you are still fun now. I enjoy linking with the guy who observed my bad choices in guys in high school without saying “I told you so”: You were right. I am glad to know again the red-head who lived down the street growing up: You are still beautiful both inside and out. I am happy to know that there is still a bit of a tie between myself and a swimmer a few years older than me from a rival high school: I respected you then and still do. I like seeing words and pictures from the buddy of my future and now ex-husband: If there were do-overs, I would pick you. I like bonding with women from my college sorority who are now scattered about: My memories of you are sweet and I am glad to share a small bit of your life today. I like connecting with boys I dated very long ago and men I dated not so long ago: I like that we can still be friends.
I like seeing how life has carried on with people I admired in places I’ve lived and left. To those high school acquaintances with whom I remember having little real conversation: I wish I’d had the wherewithal in my uncouth youth to have known you better for you were and are still interesting to me. To those who raised their children in places and times where I raised mine: Those were good years, weren’t they?
I like little snippets from people I have worked with, people I have laughed with, people I have cried with. I am thankful to have had the chance to begin to re-open doors that I felt were closed with ex in-laws and to begin opening doors with the new steps. I enjoy connecting with friends of my children and with the children of my friends. I like the dialogues I have with my new acquaintances and my fellow bloggers. I love the humor, the wisdom, the photographs and the good stuff you share with me.
Not terribly long ago, pen pals wrote each other in longhand, on thin lined paper stuffed into small envelopes, stamped with collectibles on the outside and with formal language on the inside. Long distance was precious, there was no Skype, Twitter, Hootsuite, nor any of the other variations of social media that exist and I cannot even name. Social circles were not organized by Google. Connections were limited by the simple fact that it was hard to keep in touch with people not seen.
Were connections deeper then? Perhaps. But there was not the opportunity to connect with somebody half a world away to instantaneously share a soup recipe, enjoy repartee, discuss political events, or share secrets. We wouldn’t have been able to post our congratulations to a friend two seconds after they post an I-phone picture of their one-hour old grandchild. We couldn’t have seen pictures of places or read about events around the globe posted by people who simply love to write, shoot pictures and share. People who usually do so for no pay and no huge following, but rather, for the simple thrill of pushing the publish button.
Perhaps I should better organize my connections so that I can give and receive more relevant content with only the right people. Then, those who care not to see pictures of my dog or to know that I ate dinner at Cafe Terra Cotta on Saturday night need not be bothered. My news feed does not have to become cluttered with political views that I oppose. I too could avoid offending or annoying and being offended or annoyed. I can block, de-friend, and un-follow and can be blocked, de-friended and un-followed too. Alas, my circles are fully unorganized and my content expounds without boundaries. For that is how I like it.
It’s not all-encompassing. It doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming. Without my loose, unstructured and somewhat out-of-control connections and my love of social media, my dress might never have found a final resting place.
I could, but I wouldn’t want, to give up my online friendships. What about you?