There are so many things that I can write in this area, ending with the onset of social media. I can only blame myself, because I have been fearless when it comes to technology. After spending (and earning) nearly 40 years of income working in the computer business (I started in 1973 in a computer center in White Plains, N.Y.), I know what I’m talking about here. The significance of technology and social changes over the last four decades were re-defined at the onset of email, the internet, and Facebook.
Why FaceBook you say? When I have asked older people why they wanted me to train them how to use a computer, almost always was the same answer “I want to communicate with my grandchildren”. So, I taught them. They became proficient on how to create and email, and how to learn how to open a video file, or a picture, that their children would send them through the internet, and then I set them up with a FaceBook account, touching…right?
For the most part, yes. It has become instant gratification for both parties..the grown child who is busy with a job and found this method most convenient, and the grandparent, who can see pictures, videos, or receive text updates on their most precious commodity…the grandchildren.
Somewhere, we have lost the “loving” skill that acknowledges our human emotional requirement. That of getting together personally, having conversation by using our ears and our mouths, and spending a little time with each other. You know what I mean. An email or text, just does not do it.
Technology has re-defined our cultural to the point that written words, not the expressed words from the mouth to the ear, but written words have replaced the obvious. As a writer, I am still trying to remove my “strictly business” years of technical writing, and replacing it with heartfelt and emotional words, so that the reader can truly know who I am.
I wrote about it briefly, in my book “Escaping the Jaws of Life”, about emails that both of my children sent me regarding a decision that I had made for myself. They didn’t like it, and they sent me emails saying it in stern words. It caused a lot of emotional challenges in my life. I started doubting my decisions, my children chose not to include me in their world. I sat back, hurt and alone, getting angry and creating my own description of my anger with my “I should’ve done this, or I should’ve said this”. I had no recourse. I was still heavy in grief. I felt I had been abandoned.
I get it. My generation is getting older. We are losing our spouses and partners. They provided our significant balance for strength and assurance as we move through this last half of our life. The generation below us is moving twice the speed of light compared to us, as we moved quite fast compared to our own parents. It’s never ending.
But I digress. A recent incident (which I will call it an incident), where I got a text message from my son. It was cryptic and said “CJ birthday April 26 1 pm”. The last text message I had received from him was "Happy Birthday" about three weeks before. Oh, I had been “tracking him” on Facebook, wondering what he was doing – other than being a magnificent father, a career man in a big bank, and commuting ungodly hours, and traveling to other parts of the country for his job. Okay…so he is busy. Good for him.
So I looked at the text message (which I read 3 days later, because I rarely get text messages, and I don’t like them at all), and thought to myself… “Wow, why didn’t he just call me?”.
About a week later, I got an “evite” from my daughter-in-law to the birthday party. By now, I’m getting upset about technology. I decided to get on my son’s Facebook account to see or message him, and I find I’m blocked. My emotional buttons had been pushed. Both my daughter and son had done that to me three years ago, and refused to communicate with me for two of those years. I thought we had made progress.
Then I got the “slap that took me deeper”. My daughter sending me a generic email for a “GoFundMe request to send her daughter (my grand-daughter) to Hawaii for a cheerleading competition. No phone call, just the email. No personal letter from my grand-daughter, no contact whatsoever.
Going through my mind was “What did I do now? Why am I upset about this? Did he give up Facebook for Lent? (A little humor helps, because those who have known me and Larry for years know that we did not raise our kids in any main religion, if any). Then the email from my daughter who I last saw on Christmas Eve. So I seethed inside, going into a my own personal pity-party, spiraling down into a “my family has abandoned me again” mantra. I was there for almost two weeks.
My “roomie” Chris couldn’t help, my writing buddy Joan was going through some health issues herself, was not in contact. My walking/dancing buddy Debi was available…and we talked while we walked. She offered different scenarios that “this could’ve happened, or maybe it’s not what you think”. But I spiraled. I had not been this low in over two years.
I finally seemed to edge up the courage to reply to that text. It was difficult, but there was no Facebook connection. His wife, bless her heart was still there and had not blocked me…but this situation was between my son and myself, no triangulation necessary, please! As soon as I replied to the text, he immediately called me.
Yes, I blew it out of proportion. Yes, I made a mountain out of a molehill, and yes, he did give Facebook up for Lent. (Who would’ve thunk?). This week, I received a nice thank you card from both my daughter and grand-daughter, thanking me for the contribution I made. I hope she sends pictures.
I did learn a valuable lesson. When I receive a text message again from either of my children, I will be calling them direct. It saves time from the weeks of playing in the pity-party. So, kids, in case you are reading this, just call me. I love you. Let me emote, it doesn’t mean I love you any less, it just means that I miss you.