You receive a reel-to-reel tape recording from a friend overseas. He informs you that he will not make any more tape letters for you.
You receive a cassette recording from a friend far away. He tells you that he won’t be sending you any more cassettes.
You receive a phone call from a friend who lives outside of the city. You don’t see him very often. He tells you that he won’t be calling you any more.
You receive a long distance call from a friend in another country. He informs you that it will be the last one he makes to you.
You receive a voice message from your friend. He tells you that you should not expect any more voice mails from him.
You receive a fax message from a friend in another province. He tells you that he will have to stop sending you faxes.
You receive a letter from a friend in another province. He tells you that he will not write any more.
You receive an E-mail from a friend. He tells you that he will not send you any more E-mails.
You receive a link to visit your friend’s photo album online. He tells you that he will not be sharing photos with you in the future.
You receive a VoIP call from a friend. He tells you that he will not talk online with you any more.
Your friend in another city sends you an instant message. He tells you that this will be the last one you will receive.
In each of these circumstances, the reason your friend gave for cutting off communication efforts was the same. Your friend wanted to focus all of his efforts on meeting new people and socializing with friends face-to-face in the city where he lived. This included focusing on going out to cocktail parties, art openings and hosting carefully planned, gourmet dinner parties for small, intimate groups of friends. You will concede that these social efforts are commendable and you can understand that some people might naturally become engrossed in their social scene. After all – some friends do drift apart while other friendships remain firm irregardless of the distance between meetings. You do, however, think it odd – indeed perhaps a bit obsessive – to conclude that it is impossible to have an active social life and connect with friends farther afield from time to time.
You sign in to your social media account and see a message from your friend addressed to all of his contacts. “I will be shutting down my account for awhile – perhaps permanently – while I focus on meeting people and developing friendship in REAL life.”
“Fretting over the nature of your friendships – including if or how you’re making friends. It’s the new obsession these days”, you conclude. The new era of sharing in a semi-public forum had always seemed to be an awkward fit for your friend. You recall letters he sent in previous years that came across as long, detailed monologues with your name tacked on top.
This is when you imagine what it would have been like if he had written the message in decades past. (* Return to top of the page.) You can only imagine what people would have said then. No – wait – you can pick up the phone and run the scenario by your parents. They’re of another era and understand social graces and appropriate communication strategies well.
Just as you expected.
You can see their eyes rolling on the other end of the telephone.
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