Not necessary to say goodbye

In an age of social networking, we don’t say goodbye like we used to (or, speaking for myself, I find “goodbye” isn’t as hard to say as it once was).  I tend to end conversations with “talk soon” more often.

If I’ve met a person – even just briefly – I can usually count on finding them somewhere online.  If they don’t have a website, they might have a blog; if they’re not on Facebook, they’re probably on Twitter.  I found that even other people I didn’t know were researching me online to make it easier for other people to find me – it was a bit creepy, and yet kind of flattering all at once.

Does all of this change how we understand our mortality?  Can we, in essence, live on in the ideas, comments, postings that we put “out there?”  I know of Facebook profiles where the user has died, and yet people continue to post on their profile, sort of like a “living memorial.”

It’s strange because, in a way, we’re living with a virtual beyond-reality, let alone virtual reality.  There are so many ways to collect data and store it that we can practically harness the essence of a person’s ideas on disc, these days!

It’s possible to capture information and store it.  I’ve enjoyed making audio recordings for many years now.  I began by recording on cassette-tape; then I added a micro-cassette recorder to my arsenal so I could record without hauling heavy gear around; I remember putting things on CD for the first time in late-1995 (very expensive!); in 1997, I got a mini-disc recorder and began using that a lot; I recorded on digital audio tape (DAT) in the late-1990s; in the early-2000s I was introduced to computer multi-track recording, and I’ve built on that since.  …hard-drive space has come down in price; DVD (and even Blu-Ray) burners are accessible; USB thumb-drives can be obtained with 64GB on them, and external hard-drives are counting in the terra-bytes now.  (Heck, I even have a memory of real floppy-discs; floppy discs which have, just in the past couple of weeks, had their production stopped!)  When I was in seminary, my classmates called me “The Chronicler” for recording all the things I did.

So, what happens with all the data?  Do we have to retain any memories ourselves if we can look them up online down-the-road?

When I was a child, I remember visiting my grandparents in the mid-west States and tears running down my face when we had to leave because I knew it’d be the better part of a year (or, in my mind, an eternity) before I’d see them again.  Now, my toddler Skype’s with her Grandmother, and it doesn’t even cost the price of the postage stamp I used to have to put on the letters I sent my grandparents.

The title on this post is “not necessary to say goodbye,” but I mean that with an ironic tone.  It is necessary to say goodbye – when we’re parting ways for a week, or when we’re honouring a loved one who has died.  It’s a way of showing respect and letting someone know they matter to us.

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Posted on May 17, 2010, in Tyler's occasional web log. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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