Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Daily Mundane #15 - Too Many Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I was contemplating this morning when I would send out some texts to folks I've been holding close in prayer, it struck me.
I've been checking in and hearing back for a bit now.
My heart has been easier when receiving responses.
I've thought, "Oh, she seems better than I thought she'd be."
Or "Maybe this situation isn't as bad as I got from her on the phone."
Because each text response ends with an exclamation mark.

In her blog post yesterday, "You Are Not a Brand. You Are Beloved," Bonnie Gray cited an article published in The Atlantic about online communications, social media and actual social interaction.  It stated: 
“…within this world of instant and absolute communication, 
unbounded by limits of time or space, 
we suffer from unprecedented alienation. 
We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier."

This spoke to me deeply.  
Though I have a really beautiful and supportive network of online friends, and I truly feel I've gotten closer and more connected to several people because of their encouragement, there is sometimes that still, small voice in me whispering, 
"It will never be the same as real. live. human. contact." 
A touch. A smile. A sympathetic "mmm-hmmm."  The hushed sing-song of a voice comforting another. 
That thought further begs the question, "Is any of this real?"
Real pictures.
Real words.
Real sentiments.
Real life.

Some of it maybe.  But I truly believe that much of what we see in the virtual is an edited, cleaned up version of our regular ol' messy, broken lives.  After all, who wants to post a picture of a sobbing kid splayed out in front of mountains of unfolded (or worse, unwashed!) laundry who's just thrown up all over your clothes?  
No, we wait until the virus is over, scrub everyone and everything up spanking new and smile wide and "true" for that selfie.  
Add a filter.
Crop above the waist.

Our replacement face-to-face conversations can feel the same way.  
You know those conversations?
The ones that take place with a quick type on the screen followed by a "send."
Of course, it's not possible to fly across the country and give a hug whenever we want.
But corresponding back and forth via text, email, FB message, tweet, woof, bling, buzz, whatever (those aren't really things) can leave us feeling like we have the whole picture when instead, we might simply be getting exclamations punctuating a hidden hurt.  
A hidden heart.

I need to remember to delve deeper than mere typographical symbols will allow.
To see and hear the person and not just their words.
To see and hear their heart.
The loneliness.
To connect deeply with words and nuance and empathy and emotion.
To connect heart-to-heart.
I need to see beyond the exclamation point to the true friend inside.

{All of you exclamatory texters, 
I'm coming for ya!  
For the rest of you, I hope you 
will find face-to-face...
or better yet heart-to-heart...
connections today.  
Thanks for reading.}

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