Thirty years into this mobile life I can truly say I have friends all over the world. Not international Facebook buddies I’ve never met, but real friends who I’ve known for a while, or in some cases, forever. Of course with advent of Facebook, it so much easier to stay in touch. I remember the pre-internet days of typing, faxing or snail mailing letters – or worse – writing the dreaded Christmas letter, trying to summarize the major events of the year into one boring laundry list of milestones that were of little or no interest to anyone who receives it.
Or even worse – participating in the annual Christmas card ritual that become increasingly meaningless to me, much to the annoyance of my husband. I don’t think I’m alone in dropping the ritual of sending Christmas cards to distant friends, even when its the only method of communication left. I think its been slowly dying a death independent of my negligence. I have only contributed to their demise, and others aren’t writing them either, although some might argue that friends aren’t mailing them to us anymore as they’ve just given up trying to figure out our address! But I am suspicious that I’m not the only one that feels the drudgery of repetitively handwriting masses of envelopes outweighs the connectivity that they are supposed to bring, especially when weighed against the personal connection of a Skype call or even an email.
Despite all the meaningless white noise of Facebook, it does bring me everyday nuggets of trivia that I care about. Photos of my nephews and nieces growing up, my friend’s new house, details about places and faces where I have lived but may never see again. These are the kind of everyday minor details that we’d share if we lived across town or even in the same country. Its trivia, but its meaningful because of the person sharing it. And with real friends, we switch to Skype to share real news, to hear each other’s voices, or to explain important things privately. Being an expat was much, much harder before the internet.
Yes, real friends are people that you can reconnect with after a long time apart, and that accept you for who you are. (And, in our case, people who forgive us for completely wrecking the “w” pages in their address book!) But they are also the people who remember all the crazy small things you’ve shared, and the little things that are important to you.
Sometimes I envy people who live in the same place all their lives, and have a real sense of place. But that isn’t really who I am or what would really make me happy. So I’m grateful that, for at least some of the time, the internet – almost – makes me feel like I live in a global village.
This post participated in the Daily Prompt: Something So Strong.