I remember a funny story an aunt told me a long time ago about her daughter, my small cousin who was at that time about the age of 4. She was having trouble sleeping at night and began the habit getting of out of bed and waking up her mom. “I’m scared mommy!” My aunt would tell her to go to bed and think nice thoughts. So the routine went on for a couple of weeks where the child would wake and her mother would have to come up with various “nice things” for her to think about. After a while, fresh out of ideas my aunt told her to go to bed and know that Jesus was with her and would protect her always. The next night she goes to her mom again, scared and unable to sleep. My aunt reminded her that she was safe with Jesus and to have no worries. This is what the child told her mom: “But Mommy…I want someone with skin.”
And you know, so do I. I want someone with skin when I am trying to figure out with the distant voice on the phone who is responsible for the miscommunication that caused 3 weeks to lapse before the repair tech actually made it to my house to fix my washer. And I want some skin when I go to Macy’s, formerly Marshall Field’s which was formerly Hudson’s, when I need assistance while I am shopping (or when I simply need to leave and need somebody to scan the ticket and take my damn money). When I call information for a directory listing, God how I’d love someone with skin to ask and compute the question,”City and state, please…” After repeating myself three times to the electronic person on the other end, the one with skin finally chimes in to ask me the question yet a fourth time. City and state, please…
But the occasion on which I prefer to have some skin the most is when nurturing a relationship. For me, the temptation to type is irresistible because I am a far better written communicator, but time after time I get burned and learn that the most eloquently posed sentiment or cleverly crafted burn must always be tempered by the face of the receiver. This volley of words and expressions infused with human emotion creates a chemistry between people that captures the moment of here and now. There is no Backspace in conversation. No Delete. No lapse of time between send and open. Most importantly, there is no such thing as an e-tear or a cyber-hug. Ha ha? Can’t touch a real live belly-laugh. And when we substitute our e-mails and Facebooks for the real McCoy, we are only building a version of ourselves based on our own perceptions of who we are or wish to be. This is not reality. It is fraud. Even when we assure ourselves we are keeping it real, there is a little something we hold back, and much of what we would never have the courage to say face to face. Why is that a bad thing? Because eventually we begin to believe ourselves to be the polished versions we portray and one day look in the mirror and realize we still have a lot of work to do.
Facebook is thine enemy on this matter. I actually know a girl who has over 200 Facebook friends, but oddly only 5 real ones ever show up to her parites.
And you may be able to keep in touch with a long distance friend much easier electronically, but at what point do you feel compelled to save up for a ticket for a real visit? What would you really have to talk about when you have been sharing the minutiae of your day through e-mail, sending pics and filling in on gossip? I bet that ticket will be waiting awhile, because what’s the point? And Facebook in my opinion has completely changed the value of a class reunion.
So let’s face it people. We move through life in stages, and with those stages friends will come and go. We go from our parent’s home where our nucleus is our family, to college, where we make our sophisticated friends, to eventually, for most it is on to married life where we create a whole new thing with spouses and children. We simply don’t have the time to nurture real-life relationships with everyone we ever come to know. And when we try through a computer, we rob ourselves of the precious time we could be spending nurturing the primary relationships in our lives. So what is the reward of e-communication, really? After 5 years of type-and-click, what do you reminesce about? OMG Becky! Remember when you sent me that joke about bar whores? Remember when we took the Dr.Phil test together and both scored a perfectly matched “35”? What is the point of sending pics back and forth of kids and pets and spouses we never come to know? Feeling connected? Nostalgia? Nosiness? Keeping the gang together?
Newsflash. The gang broke up in 1990. Time to get a life and move on. Chances are if you had one, you wouldn’t give a crap about what goes on in everyone else’s.
So as for Facebook, I think I’ll pass. The fact that I haven’t picked up the phone to dial someone’s phone number in 4 years is a pretty good indicator that I wouldn’t be interested in having a virtual martini with them. I know who my peeps are, and we make sure to carve out time for real ones, skin and all.