Look Up [on Merely A Thought Monday]

i'm trending copy

Lester struck up a conversation with us on the train to Chicago. Sitting across the aisle, fresh from a job interview, he was chatty with relief. He has the gift of gab and our chat  was easy and wide ranging. Kids. Art. Relationships. We talked about how difficult it is for people to talk, how guarded we’ve become in our modern world, how armored we are against simple dialogue. We reveled in how unusual it is for strangers on a train to share life-stories for an hour without distraction or wary suspicion! We bemoaned how our political circumstance makes every conversation a mine field, how topic-avoidance defines many of our relationships.

We looked around the compartment and noted how social media is a double-edged sword, providing easy access to our children a thousand miles away but also a ready escape from the people sitting 3 feet away. Lester laughed and shared a moment he recently had with his girlfriend who is addicted to her phone. “She’s constantly looking for what’s trending on Facebook and Instagram. She’s forever lost in what’s trending.” he said. “The other day I told her, ‘Hey! I’m right here! Put down your phone! I’m trending!'”

Many years ago, when texting and social media were new forces in our world, my business partner and I had an ongoing debate about whether a real relationship was possible through social media. I was solidly in the ‘no’ camp. She was an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ Over the years, as the technology has evolved, I’ve stepped back and forth across that debate. The sword remains double-edged and I will most likely dance across that line forever. But I know this: nothing takes the place of reaching out and holding my wife’s hand. Having lunch with Kirsten or Craig is infinitely more rich than any text exchange. I can sit in a room while Kerri reads a book or scribbles notes for a song and not feel left out but all the time feel alone when the person I’m sharing space with is lost in what’s trending.

What’s trending will wash down the streaming river in moments and be replaced with yet another wave. Manufactured importance. It’s breaking news that constantly breaks, a drug that requires bigger and bigger doses. Immediacy is not necessarily substantive.

Lester might well have said, “Hey! I’m right here! I’m with you now. Isn’t that enough?”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I’M TRENDING

 

closeup at jonathans website box copy

 

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