When my parents were my age they had friends and work colleagues, some of whom they socialised with, who were part of their lives for a period of time. They would spend time with them, share stories, birthdays and anniversaries but, when circumstances and time dictated, their ways gradually parted and they all continued on their separate adventures. I know for a fact that my parents do not know what majority of these people are doing now, nor do they have any desire to know. They are happy to live their life in the present and consign the memories of everyone who has passed through their lives, to the past.
During my growing up years, I saw quite a bit of my paternal grandparents and I can remember several conversations between my parents and my grandparents, when they discussed who was doing what and where they were now. It would start with something like, ‘I wonder what Bobby Jones is doing now…?’ And then the reply would follow. Perhaps my grandmother would have seen his mother or sister somewhere or just heard some news on the grapevine. Whatever. The point was that it gave rise to a conversation full of interest, wonder and intrigue.
In the modern world we have no cause to wonder any more. It is relatively easy to contact anyone from our past via social media and within minutes you can chart their entire life history since you last saw them. In many cases this is positive and it is truly wonderful to be able to reconnect with lost friends and family – the importance of this should never be underestimated – however it does somewhat remove that mystery and intrigue that was present in so much of my childhood. Instead of asking, ‘I wonder what Bobby Jones is doing now…’, it’s more like, ‘Did you see that photo of Bobby Jones on Facebook?’. If you didn’t, a few clicks and you soon have.
Personally I have very fond memories of my past and my childhood. There are people who have passed through my life that I wonder about and there are others who I am happy not to meet again. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that people who you used to know are still doing okay, or that they are successful, or happily married, or have a great job or a wonderful family. In some ways it’s like closure. You can say, you know what, Bobby Jones was a pain at school but well done him. You have no cause to wonder or give him any more thought, unless of course you want to talk to him again. And social media should also not be underestimated as a great platform for this.
I still go back, however, to the top of this post when I talked about my parents and my grandparents. They come from a different generation and even though my parents could access Facebook in the same way that everyone else does, they have no desire to do so. They like, as I said, living in the present and I actually think that’s the key. Social media can pull us back. It can take us to a life we used to have, to a place we used to be and it can be so easy to try to revisit that and change the course of where we are now. And I am not sure that that’s right.
Don’t get me wrong, I use social media the same as everyone else does and I know its value, but I can’t help thinking that we have missed out on something here. By not leaving the past where it belongs and concentrating on forging our future, are we losing some of the romanticism, the mystery of life?
I am kind of on the fence here, but I think I am getting closer to jumping off it and onto the side of leaving the past in the past and enjoying the unknown. What about you? Thoughts anyone?
PS. I don’t know anyone by the name of Bobby Jones – my apologies should any Bobby Jones’ inadvertently stumble across this post…