This is all well and good most of the time. Sometimes it loses the comfortable gloss of the virtual and becomes starkly real. Sometimes I am forced to remember that behind each tweet, each status update, each pin, there is a real person with a real life and real feelings. Like now.
I have a Facebook friend, one among many, whom I have never met. This is common for me, I use Facebook as a way to connect with other storytellers and writers. This Facebook friend posts a lot and often content I don't want to read - really personal stuff, rather than the story and performance related content I look forward to from him. For that reason, I didn't connect with him on Twitter. So it was through a common Facebook friend that I found out he'd gone missing.
Two days ago he posted the following string of tweets:
- Thanks for the memories, folks; it's been real ... something. G'night ... goodbye.
- There ... now we wait ...
- I do wish I could've seen the ocean #1lasttime.
And yet... and yet. I have never touched or seen him, but my heart twists with concern. Here I am, worried about someone I have never met. Checking for status updates or tweets, hoping he will let us know he is alive. I do not know this man personally. I have never met him or heard his voice. And yet. Because we are connected through this tenuous medium, through the aether of the internet, he is real to me. I hope he is well. I hope he has found help. I hope he has found hope.
And this is the case for so many of us. Those of you who read this blog and have never met me care enough to read what I write. Those of you who have contacted me are real people, though we may never embrace, may see each other smile.
For all that pundits bemoan the disconnection created by our love affair with the screen (for all that I have wondered who we will be in a generation, if more and more of our communication is mediated) the connections we create are real. And that is a testament to the enduring power of the human heart, our yearning to know we are not alone in the darkness, our need to hear another voice - even if we hear it in pixels - that says, "I feel this way, too. I love these things, too. In the midst of the aether, through millions of electrons racing through cable and across oceans, we are connected."
Jay, if you're out there, we are here. You are not alone. You are loved. Come home.
(c)2012 Laura S. Packer