Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Invisible Walls

Being on Facebook can leave one open to out of the blue comments sometimes. Posting pictures, attitudes, blogs or other statements sometimes encourages inquiries whether they are invited or not. It’s happened to me on several occasions. A name, often times unrecognizable at first, will mysteriously appear on my page with no hint as to our past connection. It often clouds my re-collection of past friendships, relationships and encounters with old acquaintances.

When this occasionally happens, I have to wonder how they found me in cyber space. Trail blazing, walking point or just plain stalking might be the answer. Nevertheless, I’ve been found. Then the mystery begins.

Back in 1999, noted intellectual Paul Krugman said that by 2005 the internet would be no more influential than the fax machine. Guess he got that a little wrong. The internet has given me a world-wide audience. Though still small in numbers, it means exposure in foreign lands I never knew I would ever reach.

I now have a worldwide audience whether I intended for that to happen or not. It’s minuscule but it’s real. My writing platform circles the globe from the United States to the United Kingdom. It covers India, skips through Asia and into Russia then back to Minnesota again. It also makes side trips to about a dozen other foreign countries and at least three-fourths of all the states.

Who are these folks that have been visiting my Facebook page and reading my blogs? Their names, gender and age are still a mystery. Yet their presence is very real according to the cyber bots that monitor such things.

Google Analytics and Facebook data have been helpful in deciphering where my readers are coming from. It’s not an exact science and I certainly haven’t gotten a total grasp on my readership but it’s been most helpful in appreciating the scope and breath of my coverage.

When a name appears out of the blue, hinting of old familiarity, the mystery only deepens. Often times I respond to their comment or inquiry immediately but then they just disappear once again. The reconnection is swift and vapid then becomes ever elusive once more. Like touching a hot stretch of beach, that foot-to-sand encounter isn’t coming back anytime soon.

This digital tap dance in cyber space can be very confusing. I don’t know why they made the initial contact in the first place if they didn’t want to continue the conversation? Perhaps it was curiosity in connecting or pondering my response. In either case, they decided not to pursue the connection any further.

Who knows? They may have been there for important milestones in your life but are no longer even a smudge on the relationship radar. What happened to those folks? Perhaps they didn’t follow through or fell short of what I expected from them. Perhaps I failed them and the ending was mutual.

Of course, no one can make someone else their friend if they don’t want to be. It’s terribly subjective and handicapped by a less than thorough knowledge of their motives. Were there extraneous factors, whether recognized or not, that contributed to the demise of that friendship? Was it something I did or didn’t do? Was it something I said even in honesty that was taken the wrong way?

Some folks can be brutally honest in terms of their relationships. They separate family (with all those obligatory ties) from friends and acquaintances (where they get to decide whom they want to be associated with.) They pick and choose their friends based on connections, associations and tie-ins all for their own self-benefit and satisfaction. ‘It’s nothing personal,’ as my boss used to say, ‘it’s just business.’

Friendships and relationships can be by their very nature a vapid and elusive bond to attain and maintain. Fleeting friendships based on circumstance are easy to recognize. An MOS partnership in the Armed Forces evaporates as soon as discharge papers are served. That’s understood, accepted and welcomed for a return to civilian life. A close relationship in the classroom can wither away and die when outstate jobs or opportunities beckon. Neighbors and neighborhoods fade from memory after the moving van has arrived. It’s all part and parcel of the ebb and flow of normal life.

Some time ago, an old acquaintance of mine resurfaced after 58 years of ‘what ever happened to…?’ She said she was surprised to see that I had become a writer in my retirement. Another friend appeared after 52 years, also intrigued by my novel writing and local speaking engagements. They both made their first overture just as others had randomly left a message on my Facebook page. My first reaction was a refrain from that old 60’s Rascals song ‘I’d like to get to know you.’ But their response seemed to be ‘I don’t think so. Just curious here.’

It’s not like I was seeking a return to the intimacy that we once shared decades earlier. I alluded to that fact in my return correspondence but their resolve was firm. Their curiosity didn’t extend beyond that first timid comment in reconnecting. Perhaps it was more curiosity than anything else. Fair enough but too bad.

Photo Credit: Jerry Hoffman
It’s been several lifetimes since I’ve seen any of those folks. I assume I never will again. So I wish for all of them health and happiness and good memories. It’s the Great Go-Around in this our Circle of Life.

Like most mysteries of life, there are no easy answers. I just wanted to revisit an old friendship but they seemed intent on letting it remain a mystery. Another way of saying, you have your memories, I have my history. And the ‘old we’ probably won’t cross paths anytime soon in our respective futures. In other words, let it go and move on.

So that’s what I’ll do with one last melody humming in my head. As Woody Guthrie once sang ‘So long, it’s been good to know ya.’ And I’ll add “thanks for the memories.”

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I only hope you have run into some of those friends who still keep extremely busy and productive and have fun doing things they didn’t have time for when they were busy having families. It’s really fun golfing with a gal who is the same age as my son and I can win the game. It’s also important to play with and learn from the women who are in their 80s. New play to see this weekend 33 variations of Mozart, a volleyball tournament to watch and soccer to watch. No sitting around wondering what to do. 6 week trip to Europe coming up soon. See we can still keep in touch.

Post a Comment