Let's Connect!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Long after my friend Amy got the all clear from her cancer diagnosis, she told me that if something ever happened to her--I needed to be the one to shut down her Facebook page.  She admitted that her husband wouldn't have a clue on how to do it, and frankly, she didn't either.  So, she needed me to do it.  And as a good friend, I agreed.  Because that's what friends do.

In March when Amy's mom passed away, she called me to tell me the news.  This was not a sudden loss. Amy's mom had been diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer's and had been in failing health for quite some time.  I made a promise that come hell or high water I would be at her mom's funeral (or in the case of that day--a snow storm!).

I don't know about you--but there are only a handful of friends that I'd go to their parent's funeral.  Amy is one of them.

After we got off the phone, a few minutes passed and Amy called me back again.

"I need you to deactivate my Facebook page."

And I did.
Just like that.

In our conversations after her mom's funeral, Amy said that she realized that she is just not a "keep in touch via technology person."  If it is some one's birthday that you care about?  You call them or send a card.  If there is a life event?  You call or send a card.  If you have a parent pass away?  You call or send a card.

For Amy text messaging and Facebook posts just aren't the same. 

That sat with me for some time.  I'm guilty of that!  I get the notification that it's someones birthday on Facebook and I usually post a quick "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"  And I move on with my day.  A friend posts that someone passes away?  You post a "I'm sorry to hear that!" or "I'm sorry for your loss, you're in my prayers."  And that's it.  We move on.

I want to be clear that this isn't an issue of not being grateful for the messages she received.  It isn't that at all.  It's about the fact that Facebook posts and text messages have replaced phone calls and cards.  And you have to wonder.  Is that a bad thing?  If it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't have known about a classmate's passing.  If it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't know about engagements, the birth of a baby, or even be privy to some (sadly enough) crazy family drama that finds its way onto my news feed (I'm like a moth to a flame).  When my father had brain surgery last summer?  Facebook was my outlet to vent about his recovery, his stubbornness, and even the fact that he hid valuables in his socks and underwear (true story).

So when Amy says that texts and posts on social media aren't the same as calls and cards, you have to wonder, "Is she just old school?"  Maybe.  I work in higher education and manage our online learning platform.  I can promise you that I hear on a daily basis about how we need to be more cutting edge and "connect with students like they connect with one another."  Twitter.  Facebook.  Text messaging.  Forget e-mail--that takes too long.  Short blasts of information is how they prefer to connect. And for most kids, they don't know anything but sitting next to their BFF on the bus or in a car and texting back and forth.  That's what they do.  And I'm OK with that.   A coworker just passed on this article to me yesterday and it makes a lot of sense.

But for Amy?
Amy isn't that way.  No.  She appreciates cards.  Calls.  Connection.  She wants to see the expression on your face, hear the inflection in your voice, and file a card away to look at later when she needs a pick me up.

And there is nothing wrong with that.
And it's also a little bit humbling.  Because don't we all?
So while I can embrace technology, I also know that people in my friendship circle and in my family like calls and cards and visits.

Then I saw this--of all places--on Facebook:

This is what Amy was getting at.
It isn't about not embracing technology.  She's got a laptop, a phone, and even a tablet.  For the first year of each of her children's lives she would send out an e-mail on the date the child was born with a monthly update--pictures and all.  Today Mr. J is 8 months old.  He likes to....  And now, every year on their birthday we get the same e-mail but instead of months it is now years

It's about the fact that we have our noses so buried into our phones and laptops that we don't even talk anymore.  I'm guilty of it.  So is my husband.  

So I'm making a pledge to reconnect through good, old fashioned letter writing.  I've made a calendar and each week, for 52 weeks, starting on June 1st, I'll be sending cards to friends and family members who are out of town to connect and let them know I'm thinking about them.  Forget Facebook posts.  Its about reconnecting more than just at Christmas.  Friends and family who are in town?  I'm making plans to call them and set up a lunch dates to reconnect--which should lead to more time together, and less time tied to technology.

Doesn't mean I'm giving up my phone or text messaging.  Because if I need my husband to do something, sending a text is a sure fire way to get his attention.

But I want to encourage you to put down the phone.
Close up the laptop.
Power down the iPad.
And get out there.

The world is waiting for you.....