I’m going to die.
And when it does, I don’t want the people I love, those near-and-far, to hear about it first from Facebook –or Twitter, or Instagram, or Snapchat (or whatever else is next coming ‘round the bend).
I want face-to-face time. I want somebody 1 to sit with somebody 2 and tell them I’m gone.
This request isn’t self-serving –it isn’t about me. How could it be? I’m not even here in this scenario.
And I’m not being old (okay, well maybe I am) or anti media.
It’s also not meant to inflict pain. But it will.
I’ve been both people; the person giving the news, the person getting the news. I like neither role. But in the old days (apparently, I am old), there was a visit or at least a phone call with a live, breathing voice at the other end of the line. The message wasn’t sent out to friends and frenemies, alike. And the person receiving it wasn’t blindsided without a buffer.
There was expression, sound -a knitted brow, maybe, a catch in the throat.
And there was touch. Flesh on flesh or weighted woolen hugs through layers of fabric that still felt humanly warm.
Social media makes it easier to spread bad news. And super fast. Certainly, it’s easier for the person sharing. A message is typed, then texted, or posted or tweeted or merely sent. And it’s out there. Exploding into the universe. Collateral damage be damned.
Maybe this new mode is also less difficult for the recipients –alone or in public, they can privately process. Before they have to suffer the presence of human contact.
We avoid human contact a lot, these days, often virtually present, but fully absent in real-life encounters.
I get it. We humans are pretty messy.
Life is messy.
Grief is messy.
Being alone is cleaner, more sterile, less complicated.
Until it’s not.
Because there are times when we’re just not meant to be alone.
I wish my students would embrace this tenet a little bit more. Safely set in the cocoon of their rooms, they’re often constantly connected with their virtual friends. But less truly connected with the real people in their lives. They get sucked into dramas playing out on the internet instead of being present in the many more genres their real lives could offer –if they’d let them.
Super-connected in cyperspace, they’re less connected in personal spaces.
And they’re missing out.
On all that icky, messy human stuff.
All the sad stuff, all the bad news.
But they’re also missing out on a whole bunch of good stuff that flies too fleetingly fast on iclouds and in viral bursts.
News of first jobs and new babies, of graduations and marriages, of singular and simply happy days, is all posted and past –in an instant.
We see it –it’s right in front of us. Quick –look, feel, react.
It’s almost like we’re there.
But we’re not.