Reach Out With Meaning

Facebook is a range.  It’s the good, the bad and the ugly among a group of people they call your “friends”.  This means I should already have had some idea of their goodness, badness or ugliness. I don’t know about you but I would be hard pressed to even picture some of them.  I’ve been fairly careful over the years to make sure they are actually people I do know, but there are easily a handful that I do not know personally.  They are “friends of friends” who collect friends.

Facebook isn’t generally a platform for reaching out and touching people.  I don’t find it sociable at all.  I am partial to Instagram myself.  I hated when the folks at Facebook purchased it.  I was afraid they would ruin it.  It’s less about your words, which, let’s face it, can sometimes be awkward, and more about your images, how you view your world visually.  That’s pretty beautiful, even when it has an harsh edge to it.  It is a place to say many things without saying anything.

Friends are not something you collect contrary to what Facebook might promote.   They are, to use another popular social media term, something that you “curate”, over time.  You carefully and thoughtfully select the most relevant, highest quality content when you curate content on a page – it should be the same with friends.  Even high-quality friendships are going to include one or two that stand out as a bit strange.  I suspect I am that person on a number of people’s lists.

I have several friends who have fallen into the pit of political scornfulness.  They are unable or unwilling to see the negativity that these things stir up.  I feel they are caught in the trap that is the modern media.  It is no longer the job of a reporter to report news in an unbiased manner.  It is their job to be a commentator.  It’s all gone tabloid.  It is their opinions and purpose, it seems, to distract people from the need to come together by constantly selecting the best (or worst) soundbites and pushing them to the farthest possible limits away from compassion and attention to those closest to us.  It’s a shame and I do hope one day some of my friends return from the Neverland that is the uselessness of the national political stage seen through the eyes of online personalities.  It is theater after all.  And not the best theater.  We would not buy tickets to see it.

Let’s not dwell on the negative.  There is a button to hush that after all – for 30 days – one of the few features of Facebook that actually was a good idea.

Another friend posted an extremely vulnerable thought last night.  One that had been floating through my mind a lot during the past few weeks.  That is the one I want to talk about.  It read:

“Will we ever get to hug again?  I don’t want to live in a hug-less world.”

Simple. Vulnerable.  Brave.

My first thought was to make her laugh, post something funny to get her out of this thought spiral.  I only know it is a spiral as I was in it last week.  This is a very emotional world we’ve come to be in, in spite of the fact that we are generally distanced now and people do not even like to make eye contact.  But this was not a time to laugh.  This was real. This was pain and sadness and quite a bit of bravery that lead her to say this.

Yes, we will get to hug again.  I believe it.  Our future is not a hug-less world.  It may be a world where handshakes are replaced with a bow or an elbow bump (which looks a little like dancing to me).  We will get to remove the masks and smile.  My spiral had been brought on by the masks, which did not allow people to see that I was smiling at them.  We will not be living in a masked world and we will get to hug again.  We will never stop needing that.

To be honest there is no reason we can’t hug now.  You can hug yourself and pretend it is someone else.  You can hug others in your home, if you are lucky enough to be sheltering in place with family or friends. I am hearing that the closeness of quarantine with others is wearing thin but hug them and you may be able to forget the mess they just left in the kitchen.  Maybe.

I hug a friend when I visit to drop off groceries or have tea.  We chat without masks.  It’s a risk we are willing to take.

The world has been through times before when we were in danger of losing hugs and it did not happen.   Not all hugs were deemed sexual harassment.  Not all hugs indicate you are a predator.   Hug yourself. Hug your family. Hug your friends.  Hug someone in need of a hug.  The health benefits are enormous.  If you are not comfortable with a physical hug at this time, then reach out virtually.  A text, an email, a letter, an invite to a Zoom chat – all of these can mean the world to someone feeling extremely alone right now.  They are a hug of sorts.

I applaud my friend who was brave enough to post that.  I am rarely brave enough to shout out when I am feeling lost, scared or alone in this.  She is a great role model for me.

Reach out.  Now is the time for it.