Actually, tweeting and Facebooking and all manner of electronic communication. I am not here to bemoan the existence of these virtual connections; to the contrary, I embrace them. I dove into the deep end, and have come up, texting. The young'uns know all about this, but many my age resist. Don't!! In the past weeks, I've Skyped, hung out, streamed live, posted, blogged, tweeted, Facebooked, emailed, and yes, gotten on the phone. A few people I've actually met face to face, too.
True story: Fifteen years ago, I used to sell books through an international home-based biz. One of the other distributors lived in England. We had a listserv, and I noticed she often posted Jewish responses or comments. Our book businesses ended, years passed, we kept up the listserv. I posted what I was up to next: Jewish education. She was volunteering for this thing called Limmud. She gave my name to the programming team, I was invited to present, flew to the UK. Had never met her before, nor had I heard of Limmud. I didn't even know how Limmud got my name until halfway through the week. Suffice to say, we're Facebookin' friends, my daughter stayed with her when she was in England last year, and I'm co-chairing Limmud Chicago. Now, how does THAT happen without the virtual communication world?
I can't be bothered with what kind of coffee you're buying, or posting when I'm walking the dog. I do want to read the article you just finished, or see the YouTube about some candidate response. Don't need to see the cute cat, but I do like the kid with the bag of flour. I try to use the power of the keyboard for good: expanding horizons, meeting and exchanging ideas with people around the world, some who share my opinions, and others who don't, and seeing new babies and spouses. Far flung nephews and nieces, and sisters and daughters are only clicks away. Much younger people I've performed with are my friends, and they've welcomed me into their world, their ideas, their stresses, their music, and they visit when they're home from school, too. My kids weren't always my "friends"; I have my own friends, I don't need theirs. Now we're officially friends, but I don't check their walls often. I have been able to send and receive love, to friends who were feeling alone and scared, and from those who knew I was feeling the same way. Sometimes a call followed; sometimes it's enough to know someone else was thinking of you. And I've learned a lot about what's going on around me, around Israel, around Washington, around the world.
Mostly, my kids and I text each other, and that's just fine. Who knows what their schedule is? Mine changes, too. The little delights of the day can be transmitted ("just heard that song!") without a big to-do. And let's hear it for my mom, who was not going to let distance separate her from her grandkids, dammit. She emails, Facebooks, and Skypes.You go, mama!
I used to sit down with a cup of coffee and have a nice long phone chat with the people I love. Sometimes I still do, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to meet in person for that coffee and chat. But why should I end relationships with family and friends just because they move all over the world? Believe me, for the big stuff, we get together, or at least grab the phone. But it's the little stuff that fills in cracks, that cements the bricks between our time together. I find myself thinking about special people more often, precisely because I can see something that would make them smile, click, and carry on. And oh my, what I'm learning every day!
Of course, the keyboard can grab hold of my fingers and not let go. It's up to me to walk away from the machines, but I'll always log back on, sending tweets and posts, hugs and hellos, both expanding and shrinking my world.