Threads and Connections
One of the blessings of participating in the net community is being able to connect and reconnect with people geographically distant. Not that this is an earth-shattering discovery. But while doing some disk-cleanup the other day, it struck me how wonderful this tool is, and how much I disagree with the experts who say the Internet discourages connections and intimacy.
Here's a folder with e-mails from a former classmate who moved to California a few years ago. He sent me a Christmas card with his new business card last year. I'm horrible at writing letters, and I'm not one to pick up the phone to call someone unless I have something "important" to talk about. But dropping a quick e-mail is easy, and we've now re-established connections. He's not a close friend, but a friend none-the-less, and it is nice to have that link back.
This folder contains emails from a former employee and friend who now lives in Vermont. We had exchanged Christmas cards for a while, but as I am one poor correspondent (apologies to Mr. Simon? Garfunkle? whoever <g>), we'd lost touch. She did an AOL people finder search and was able to find one of my e-mail addresses. We trade messages in flurries—we'll correspond daily for a week, then get busy with our lives and not send anything for a month or more. But the contact is there.
And this one—if it were a physical folder it would be overflowing. It contains messages between me and my sweetie. Silly jokes, plans for get-togethers, philosophical ramblings, sentimental nonsense. We met via the Net, and ours is a long-distance relationship. We get together when we can, but emails and chats keep us connected, keep the relationship going, during the times we are apart.
And, oh, the size of my ICQ directory! I chat daily with my parents and with a writer-friend across the country who, though we've never met in person, feels like a sister to me. I have messages from people I've met through newsgroups and chat-room gatherings of struggling writers. I have even more messages from my sweetie :-).
As I look through these various folders, I am struck by the thought that John Donne's statement "no man is an island" is truer today than ever before. There are threads connecting us to the people in our life—strong, tough threads between us and our families and the friends we see in "real life".
But now, thanks to e-mail and ICQ and newsgroups and chat rooms, there are these other threads, some to people we've met, some to people we likely never will. As with in-person relationships, some of these threads will undoubtedly break, the connection lost when one or the other of us drops our end. Some threads will always be gossamer-light, connecting us tenuously.
But some threads have or will become strong ropes—not ropes that bind, but ropes that link us to ones we know are there to support us. Ropes that allow us to explore the world and ourselves, secure in the knowledge that if we should step into a chasm, the ropes will act as a safety harness; that if we lose our way, we can follow the rope back to familiar ground; that at those times when we feel sad, or alone, or unloved, or unlovable, we can tug on those ropes, and an answering tug will tell us the person on the other end cares.
Excuse me now. I have some email to write :-).
© Copyright 2000 by Karen Babcock