5/6/14

How We Met . . .

If you're like me (and I hope and pray you are not) you probably sit a fair amount of the time reading, and thinking, and pondering, and blogging, and occasionally chatting with people. I'm not selective in who I talk with but I notice, the older and more curmudgeonly I get, the more selective people become about talking to ME.

I'm LUCKY enough to have a few dozen folks that are always good for a chat and to exchange some stories and lately . . . our stories seem to be about life in the most granular, possible ways.

How long Bob (not his name) has been in a relationship. How much Amy (not her name) spent on groceries this week and why it was so much. Why my colleague Fattoush (not even a name at all - but, instead, a delicious salad) can't come to a meeting and why my father (his real role in my life and a real exchange) was trying to carry several pieces of luggage up the stairs at the same time when he fell and landed in the hospital.

I have been wrestling with why we pay so much attention to such small things as we get older - it should be the opposite, right? The older and fuller our lives the less we have "time" to fret and stew about every. little. thing. We're supposed to be 30,000 feet, broad brush strokes, and top line - all great cliches, I might add - about life. Instead we're sand on the beach and needle in a haystack - both miserable cliches, I might add - about stuff.

But I don't mind the details at all ESPECIALLY if they add up to a great story.

Which brings me, five paragraphs in, to the point of today's post . . . "How we met." No - this is not my thoughts on the finale of How I Met Your Mother (I stopped watching the show years and years ago but I thought it was crafty, charming, and sweet they way they allowed Ted to have his cake and still end out with Robin) but, instead, my thoughts on the answer to a question I've asked (and been asked) several times lately . . . "How'd you meet."

It BLOWS MY MIND how many people have social media or the Internet somewhere in the mix on their answer and how few have real people, civic groups, clubs, activities, religion, and grandmothers who live in the same retirement home in the early goings of the tale.

When my parents met (while both undergraduates at the charming St. Bonaventure University) they were classmates and they knew each other before they dated. When my former in-laws met they had mutual friends so they knew each other before their relationship started. When my grandparents on my mother's side met they had two nickles between them and my grandmother really, really needed to get married and my grandfather hit all the criteria so - BAM. Fast forward to how I met my ex-wife (mutual friend but we knew of each other for months and e-mailed and chatted by phone for a week before we actually met).

None of the above couples used Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to meet their partner. No one "Googled" the other person to decide if it was a good idea to meet the other person or not. No one used any digital footprint to evaluate how the person looked or what they were really like . . . they trusted their instincts, their initial interactions, and their wants and needs.

What a strange concept that seems to be by the middle third of 2014.

What is the first thing you do when you hear about someone now? You GOOGLE them (or at least look online to see if you have overlapping circles with them). I had a friend mention the other night he is dating a woman in Atlanta . . . I tracked her down within an hour of getting home. Full name, photos, background, etc. etc. etc. (she's bright, beautiful, and seems to be the real deal - J-Hopp) in just a few mouse clicks. I got set up on a "blind date" last fall as part of some fundraising for KMUW and I resisted the urge to walk in knowing everything I could ever, possibly know about this woman in hopes that the twenty questions would at least pass the time (turned out I didn't need to worry - she was charming and fun the whole time). A friend of mine mentioned his (soon to be) ex-wife was dating and I tracked that dude down with relative ease (he's a total, total downgrade bruh - you keep your chin up)). I did a wee (sarcasm) investigation of the first guy my ex-wife dated after "us". It bummed me out (that he was my polar opposite AND that I cared so much) so I've stopped playing that particular game (she appreciates it, I have been assured).

Here's the thing (and if you read daily you will notice I am stuck in a groove/rut/trench/obsession on this one as I posted on the same basic topic yesterday) . . . I don't think it helps to explore people digitally. I would have liked my friend's girlfriend in Atlanta just fine based only on what he told me. Common sense told me my other friend's ex-wife was not going to improve upon him any time soon. It would stand to reason that you would date someone totally different after nine years with the same person. The Internet doesn't help me out - it just tells me what I already (would/could/should) know. OR it tells me things that don't help and are not worth the discovery.

I don't think we'll ever return, sadly to the way our culture used to work where we were active in the community and really, truly cared about each other if only because of common interests (I would suggest a fantastic read - by the way (very dated by now but still worth it) if you care about this topic like I do) but I do think we'll get tired of the digital opportunity of the life we live now (as relates to relationships and starting/developing/ending them). I, for one, can't wait.