Tuesday, August 27, 2013

way back when

'friend' used to be a noun
   someone tangible and here
'like' used to be a verb
a 'chat' took place in shared time
   and space
a 'post' was something solid
   driven in the ground
words were reliable,
   ink on paper,
   book on shelf
a phone was how we called home

but now
friends are virtual
   and transitory
we stare at flat screens
   instead of faces, 'liking' but not talking
and watch words fly up
   as we scroll down (like you just did)
   a moment is all they have
   to make their big impression
posts last one day
   maybe two
   before fading into forgotten history
a phone is a way to leave home
   traveling into other people's lives
hoping they are less empty
than our own


  1. So ... this sounds a little like maybe you got hurt by a virtual friendship--and if that's so, I don't mean to dismiss that lightly. There are lots of ways that the above can be true. But, in the interest of full disclosure, as someone who has lived most of her adult life maybe not way back when but certainly back when ... there was no internet, let me offer another perspective from my pre-internet memories:

    A friend was another busy mom that you missed often and chatted with only occasionally because there was no convenient way to leave little notes for each other and you were rarely free at the same time. And we almost never shared our awesome or funny pictures.

    But yes, like was a verb.

    A phone was something stuck on the wall, tying you to a circle with the radius of your phone cord while you connected with friends and family, responding to each other's vocal cues without facial expressions (or emoticons).

    And plans to meet required elaborate pre-planning, and sometimes failed due to unexpected delays or miscommunications, and parents worried about their driving kids until they walked in the door, and could only sit and pray and try not to imagine phone calls from hospitals or police if they were unexpectedly delayed by traffic or detained at school.

    But yes, a post was a solid way to hold up a fence or a sign.

    And words...well, words were pretty much the same then as now, sometimes reliable and predictable but sometimes spoken vaguely or slyly or with evil design or printed incorrectly or full of errors that could not be checked until the next trip to the library or bookstore. And even then, the library might not have that book.

    And lives were both as empty or as full as we made them, back then pretty much the same as today.

  2. Hi, Laura!
    Nope, I didn't get hurt by a virtual friendship. These reflections were prompted by an observation that people sure seem 'stuck' in their phones and missing the people who are right around them. It's easy to let technology drive life, rather than driving it. My hope is that these reflections would prompt at least a few people to stop, look up and engage with the people God has placed in their (literal, physical) path.
    But, having said that, I agree that technology is a huge blessing, and that it has revolutionized life for stay-at-home moms. I wouldn't want to turn the clock back exactly. If we did that I couldn't blog anymore, and you and I would have a hard time being friends, since we're separated by a lot of miles! I do think, though, that we can all use a reminder not to live our lives without ever going 'unplugged.'