What does it mean to stay in touch with everyone?
I backpacked around Europe the summer after I finished college. On a tour of the catacombs in Rome, the tour guide stopped in a room full of skeletons to slowly and ponderously pronounce:
The early Christians came here not just to be with their dead but also to be with one another. Because as we Christians know, it’s not just the community of the living or the community of the dead, but one community, the community of God.
At that moment, the guy behind me snorted. He was trying not to laugh, but he couldn’t contain it any longer. I liked him immediately. And we spent the next couple days together, exploring Rome. He was a motorcycle biker from Australia.
I thought of that story today because my friend Clara Fernandez posted on Facebook about how much she enjoyed the sewer tour of Vienna. And it occurred to me that if Facebook had existed in 1987 when I was in that catacomb, I would likely still be in touch with my biker friend–we’d be Facebook friends and would have kept in casual touch with one another’s lives all this time. What does it mean to keep a link to everyone you ever had any kind of meaningful contact with?
Actually, it’s remarkable that I’m still in touch with Clara. She was a graduate student at Georgia Tech many years ago. Thanks to Facebook, I know about her cool new job. And about her vacation with the cool sewer tour. And I’ve been playing a casual game lately, Candy Crush Saga, which as I complete a level shows me Clara’s photo, because the score she got on that level is inevitably higher than mine. So I have an odd sort of sense that we’re hanging out together. I wonder if anyone who is a few levels behind me has a sense that they’re hanging out with me.
Still being in touch with Clara, even just to exchange quick updates, is a positive addition to my life. Would still being in touch with my Australian biker friend be positive? We have much less in common I’m sure. But a connection to someone with a totally different life might be interesting. Though I have tons of Facebook “friends” I don’t actually remember and some I never knew. Is there a point at which the sum of it all is just too much? Does having too many trivial connections dilute the value of connections that could be more meaningful?
If we met in a catacomb in 1987, please do drop me an email!