THEN: Sitting around my kitchen table, eight friends passed around vacation photographs. One friend told anecdotes of his summer adventures as I filled wine and soda pop glasses and fetched beers for our guests. Sharing vacation pictures was a great excuse for a get together.
NOW: Today I saw my friend’s beach vacation pics on Facebook on the same day they were taken. To show her my heartfelt interest, I posted, “Have fun in the sun!” To show her that I really meant it, I added an emoji of a smiley face wearing sunglasses.
THEN: I stopped after work at the area card store to pick out a funny birthday card for my friend. Of course, the super market had a greeting card aisle, but the selection at the card store was so much better. I needed to hurry to get it in the mail so that it arrived in time for her birthday. On her actual birthday, I called her house phone during the day (this was before cell phones) and sang Happy Birthday to her answering machine so she’d hear it when she got home from work.
NOW: I wished my friend an awesome birthday by posting a picture on her Facebook page of a hamster wearing a birthday hat and eating a cupcake with a birthday candle.
THEN: Planning a friend’s surprise party, I spent an entire evening calling our other friends to ask for food donations and to give the details of the big bash. Of course, I had to allow at least fifteen minutes for each call, since we also needed to catch up on kids, family, and work updates.
NOW: These days, I make a Facebook invitation, send a group text, or use Sign Up Genius for parties and holidays. This year, since I didn’t have to actually speak to everyone to find out who was bringing pasta salad or desserts for Easter, I was able to invest that time searching for the perfect adorable bunny image for the cover pic of the Facebook invite.
Technology has certainly changed the ways we communicate. And modern tech, like email, texting, and Facebook can be a giant time saver in our busy lives. Nowadays, I can send out a text and also get a response, in less time than it would take to dial a rotary phone.
But efficiency, sadly, has trumped quality and true interaction, and frankly, I am neglecting my friendships. A hamster in a birthday hat is not a replacement for a phone call. A smiley face with heart-shaped eyes is not a replacement for an afternoon visit.
So to my neglected friends, from your neglected friend: I promise to do better. I promise to try to call you more often and to chat. I promise to invite you to go shopping or to have lunch. I promise to make time for real conversations that involve actual spoken words.
In this frenzied world, your friendships are the glue that keeps me feeling sane. I lean on you in hard times and I love your company in good times. Without you, my dear friends, my life would be sorely lacking.
So expect my call. Expect a push for get-togethers and for coffee klatches.
And if all my calling and bugging you for visits becomes an inconvenience, our newfangled modern technology should help, since you now have caller ID. So when I do call, if you aren’t free, or if you just don’t want to chat, then don’t answer.
To keep me from feeling neglected though, you might want to send a quick text that says “Can’t talk right now.” Even better, you can add a cute emoji like the smiley face with sunglasses, or maybe a funny picture of a cat in a shirt and tie, or a pug dog on a rocking horse.
That way I will know that you really do care!
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