There was a study (informally done) by Professor Clifford Nass at Stanford University regarding the physical social interaction that was slowly disappearing due to a growing use of the Internet and social media. The study was conducted with young girls in the developmental stage of life and there was a certain relation between wanting to always convey a certain sense of perpetual happiness and garnering “likes” and the waning ability to interact face to face.
I can honestly say that one of the greatest aspects about human interaction is being able to look at a person in the flesh. The history of that life is reflected in the blink of their eyes, how they walk, the tone of their voice, the expression in their faces.
And I dislike the false screen of perpetual happiness because as much as one would like it to be so, it is not. I write this because two weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine passed away and as a final send-off, I wanted to write about him.
Cancun, where I live, is a very small town and if you are up and about enough, people recognize you. Aldo was a big burly guy. A swim instructor who helped me out with correcting some of the finer points in my crawl. He always would take his group of swimmers to local swim meets and I remember him always puttering around on a scooter during the Ironman competitions here. When he passed, nearly everyone I know who has even the most remote bit of involvement with local sports knew who he was.
It’s ridiculous to cry over spilled milk but I was a little floored when I read a post that his brother wrote. He hates the fact that he won’t be able to call up his brother, his best friend, and have a beer with him anymore. His mother is absolutely destroyed, asking God why He took her baby. That she doesn’t blame Him but that she doesn’t understand why her baby.
And it made me a little sad to think I didn’t know him that well.
So there’s crying over that spilled milk.
So now I ponder. Everything in life is a lesson to be learned, a secret to be had, a step to be made. And I don’t think I wrote about this to leave it just at that.
And this is my mission: to bridge the virtual gap. To actually speak to people. To hang out over a pot of tea. To have a cookie jar filled with cookies because I’m expecting a friend at the house. To have a pack of Altoids in my purse in case you have monster breath and I can’t even look at you to talk to you but I do it because I’m a friend and I care, all the while opening the Altoids in your face.
Fuck WhatsApp, texting, Facebook “liking”, Tweeting, Foursquaring my location, Tumblr-surfing. Do not LOL me or abbreviate your phrases or truncate your words or tell me things that you wouldn’t in a million years tell me to my face because it’s easier not to see my reaction when you type it out.
Speak to me. With your voice. Look me in the fucking eye and say it to me. Because there are people who are there one day and gone the next and it’s more poignant to remember a reaction than to reduce their memory to a bunch of ill-written messages.