My move is over. Finally. The last of my stuff is out of my old place and into my new place. Now, for the next few weeks/months my life is all about unpacking. The disorder makes me crazy. Crazier than usual.
One of the things I came across, over the weekend, was an old decorative box full of letters. Real hand-written letters. From friends. And boyfriends. All of them from years ago. Some of them really long.
I started to read through them and then stopped. It was too hard. Too sad. A couple of the letters were from a friend who passed away 9 years ago. Most were from an ex I stopped speaking to in the late 90s. And some were from good friends who I hardly ever get to see, but who don’t send letters anymore.
Now we rely on facebook to stay in touch.
As if facebook could ever take the place of the occasional long letter.
I don’t know about anyone else, but reading a friend’s (or boyfriend’s or exes, even) facebook updates just makes me miss them more. It’s an empty voyeurism. Watching a performance, but not interacting with that person on any meaningful level. I can comment, or send a personal message and ask how they’re doing. But it’s rare to get a multi-paragraph reply. It’s the wrong medium.
I know that a lot of my readers are younger than me, so you’all can’t remember what it was like to have long distance relationships (romantic or otherwise) back before facebook or even email. We’d speak rarely because long-distance calls were so expensive (seriously, I spoke to my parents once a month when I lived abroad in the early 90s, at most). Letters were THE way to communicate. And, in general, people really wrote. Long letters about what they were thinking, feeling, doing and planning for their future. It was meaningful communication.
Anyway, I guess it probably seems ridiculous for a social media consultant to be complaining about the lack of depth in communications via social media. But it’s true. I get on Facebook, I see my friends’ updates, and it makes me ache for a real conversation over a long, delicious meal.
Or an airmail letter, with pages and pages of love written on impossibly thin paper.
But this is the end of 2010 and no one writes letters anymore. Not even me. Hell, I can’t even manage to keep up with my email. There is no going back. Only forward. Towards what, I don’t know.
Tags: communication, facebook, long-distance-relationship