September 12, 2016Real Connections: Don't Rely on Social Media to Remember Your Loved Ones
By Lisa Messinger
Posted by Staff at 1:08 PM
I didn't see a little icon of a gift-wrapped package on the right-hand side of my Facebook page reminding me it was Rick's* birthday. And then I didn't post on his Facebook wall, "Hey, man, happy, happy, happy birthday and MANY more."
I took what today is often considered a novel approach. It is one I would definitely recommend for you, too, if your goal is to stay grounded in the world of real connections rather than those relegated to cyberspace: I didn't rely on social media to remember my loved ones.
When his birthday hit, so did the memories that it was Rick's birthday, just as they have every year over the last few decades since we celebrated our 18th and 19th birthdays together as valedictorian high school sweethearts, prom dates and dimwitted college freshman. Although he reconnected with me on Facebook a few years ago, it didn't take the existence of Facebook, let alone email, to remember his birthday or that of any of my good old friends: Samantha, January 18; Lois, March 1; Erica, March 6; Don, May 7; Julia, June 24; Hannah, November 11. Or even newer ones, like one of my webmaster bosses and simply spectacular person, David, April 5.
I told my mom, who celebrated a big birthday recently, I didn't need to take any photos, let alone pin them on social media. Because, not only would I remember exactly how she looked in her chic pantsuit, antique necklace and perfectly coiffed hairdo strutting to my car to scour the world-renowned California J. Paul Getty Museum and peek at its Van Goghs and Monets, but that I could recite exactly how she appeared emerging from New York's Kennedy Airport more than 20 years before when she joined me to drive back to Los Angeles after I had road-tripped for six weeks cross-country on my first book tour.
I had just chatted on TV at length with the now-retired legendary Regis Philbin and his then-partner Kathie Lee Gifford and others like them. However, the nicest sight was the top curls only of my 4-foot-11-inch mom's head bobbing up and down just above the dashboard as she drove the entire way back, saying, "I can't believe I'm doing this; I never do things like this without Dad. This is big."
Memories like that usually don't fully translate to social media. Although there is less and less of it these days, there is, of course, something special about keeping the memories to yourself and between just you and the one or ones who have experienced the feelings with you.
I thought after emailing back and forth with Rick on his birthday how one little non-posted-on-Facebook act years ago had given us both the exact same exceptional memory frozen in time. It involved grabbing his hand while sequestered in a dainty guest powder room at my parents' house during my 18th birthday party and something about an upcoming semi-formal dance. The longing that had led to that moment started a full two years before when it had been best that, not only Facebook, but cell phones, too, didn't exist yet since it forced him to knock on my front door to use the telephone and then share a glass of juice, some conversation and shy smiles with me.
There is nothing wrong with progress. Who wouldn't want a smartphone or a Facebook or Instagram account? Like me, though, I hope you, too, still take time to seek out the experience of the superior jolts of the real thing.
*Names have been changed.
Lisa Messinger has a graduate certificate in Strategic Communication Management from Purdue University and is a contracted blogger for the university's Master of Science in Communication program. She is a longtime columnist at Creators Syndicate and before that Copley News Service and a manager of editorial quality assurance within iHeartMedia, Inc. She has won multiple national first-place writing awards and is the author of seven nonfiction books, including "My Thin Excuse: Understanding, Recognizing, and Overcoming Eating Disorders" with Merle Cantor Goldberg, LCSW. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.