One of my favorite philosopher-thinker-historian-musicians stopped by my office a while back. Doctor G (aka Gregg Andrews) and his wife, noted Civil War/Southern history author Vikki Bynum were back in town for a brief visit, from their new home in Missouri.
Our mile-a-minute conversation covered a lot of ground, but the visit was too short. We made hard and fast plans to get together for lunch or dinner during Spring Break. Their Spring Break trip was derailed by illness, and I am sorry to have missed them.
They moved away from San Marcos a little over a year ago- settling back to Gregg’s hometown, the Hannibal area of Missouri – Mark Twain country. Before that, they lived about eleven houses down the street and around the corner from us. Though we talked about it, we never managed to get together for dinner or a glass of wine or an evening out, though we should have.
But since they packed up the cats and moved to the Mississippi River, we have probably talked on Facebook more than we did the whole time we lived in the same neighborhood.
That got me thinking about those “if onlys” and “should haves” along the way. How often have I thought about running over to Lockhart, or up to Fredericksburg, or into New Braunfels, or down to San Antonio, and the need to make some time to see a good friend.
Just tonight, I mentioned to Mark that I really need to sit down and make some phone calls just to catch up with friends I have not talked to in a while. And before I knew it, the evening was gone. I am still “old school” in that I don’t make phone calls after nine at night, unless it’s an emergency.
Thank goodness for Facebook. And, hey, it’s not just for college kids anymore. In fact, I read that more than 18 million Facebook users are over 45.
So that’s where you’ve been keeping yourself.
Go ahead and say what you will about virtual friendships, but I believe that Facebook fills that gap left by disappearing front porches, back yards and neighborhoods, and free time. I like being able to open the laptop at 2:30 in the morning and click on Recent News to see who among my friends has posted something.
And if someone complains too much or whines too much, I can “hide” them, which is effectively ignoring them without them noticing. How great is that?
And it’s like the world’s best family album – and tag, you’re it. At any hour, I can check in and see an old friend’s new grandbaby, or a prom picture from 1974, or one of our kids at a party – well – ok. What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook.
And I love it when Paul or Bill or Joe Nick posts a classic song or obscure one-hit-wonder from YouTube, or HalleyAnna shares her latest songwriter feat, or Van Wilks is tagged in a Caribbean sunset shot.
It’s not all fun and games. Actually, I got caught up in virtual farming on Facebook a couple of years ago. It was horrible- and I had to quit cold turkey. If taking up walking was 2011’s life-changer for me, I would have to admit that 2010 kicked off with me giving up the “farm” and gaining hours back in my day. (I am a little taken by Facebook’s daily trivia quiz, Qrank, but it’s only a once-a-day addiction so I can maintain some control.)
I still lament the fact that I have not made time to spend an afternoon catching up with an old friend, and it’s been forever since my cousin and I have had a “wine night,” and we really do need to invite our tailgating buddies over for dinner in the off-season, but at this point in our lives, that is not going to change the reality that we are growing ever shorter on time and longer on want-tos.
And so for now, if we don’t see one another as often as we’d like in real life, let’s check in on Facebook.
It’s a lot like my Aunt Robbie’s old front porch swing. You can just stop and sit there a while. And keep in touch, and not overthink what someone meant or said, and for the most part, just expect the best in most people.
And I like that.
See you around.
Listening to: Carole King – “You’ve Got A Friend”