The reality was, before the early 1990’s, once we graduated from high school, the very next day more than half of the people we went to school with would disappear from our lives forever. The remaining few were mostly our close friends and even then, unless we were actually committed to staying in touch, they too would eventually drift away. As our lives changed and people moved to different towns and countries, people we were once acquainted with became distant memories or were totally forgotten. Without social media platforms and various other searching tools, reconnecting with the people we grew up with were very unlikely events mostly left up to chance encounters and the occasional unexpected contact from a long-lost friend. This was the reality of many of us growing up in a world prior to social media.
Today it is easier to stay in touch with the people in our lives. In fact, we are now able to reconnect with just about anyone whether they themselves are on social media or not. There is always a “friend” on social media, who has a friend, who knows the exact whereabouts of the friend you’re trying to find. With platforms such as Facebook, and various alumni and interest groups, people who were once lost to us long ago, are now back in our lives today. Blessing or curse, that’s for each person to decide. Social platforms have also given birth to all different types of “friendships” and with the click of a button, immediately good friends, not so good friends, and no way in hell friends can become “friends”.
Still, these platforms are there for us to use in whatever way we wish. Some choose not to use it, or so they say (wink, wink). I’m sure we all know one or two of those people who claim they have no interest in social media but who are always up to date on all latest details posted there. Listen to me my friends (and I’m whispering so I don’t expose you) if you consistently use your friend’s or spouse’s phone to see what’s going on, on Facebook, and if you own a secret “unused” account, then you are a user. While understanding that there’s a lot that could go wrong on social media if abused, we have to also give props to all the things that can go right when used with restraint and good judgement. It can be a means of providing a “lifeline” to some worthwhile relationships, enabling them to stay alive and strengthen in the face of busy schedules, inadequate time and all the complexities of life in general that prevent friends from meeting face-to-face.
Still, social media cannot and should not replace being present, live and in person. My WhatsApp group of soccer moms is evident of that. It consists of a group of women who have known each other for over 12 years, the span of some of our kid’s soccer careers. We don’t all see each other often; in fact, it has been over a year since I’ve seen a few of them but we communicate everyday through WhatsApp. When we finally got together recently for a day of rest and renewal, thanks to our consistent communications through our group chats, there was no awkwardness or unfamiliarity that sometimes come along with people being out of touch. We simply picked up where we left off and filled in the hugs, kisses, personal stories and emotions that are only possible when old friends reconnect face to face.
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