I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
Rebecca Reynolds wrote a beautiful and thought-provoking piece for the Rabbit Room the other day called What Has Come To Us. You should really go read the whole thing, but here’s a small quote that has been rattling around in my head these past few days.
The rearing of living food is a close and sober thing. It is one of those intimate jobs that has grown foreign because it’s too close and too sober. Chicken goes down easier when it’s shaped into dinosaurs and dipped in chemical sauces. Satiating our hunger has become numbingly easy.
The same has become true of my social hunger….
My children will tell you that it is a rare day indeed when I buy chicken nuggets to serve for dinner. (When we’re travelling and stop for fast food, that’s a different story.) Yes, chicken nuggets are quick and easy, but I always wonder if there is really any chicken in there. I do buy my chicken at the supermarket. I don’t have to behead it or pluck it. I don’t know exactly whence it came. I do, however, take some time to prepare it into a satisfying meal for my family.
Even Deirdre, when she comes home from college where she has a veritable smorgasbord from which to choose her foods for every meal, even Deirdre prefers my single selection home-cooked meal because, as she puts it, “it has more flavor.” I don’t think she would say that if I threw a basket of chicken nuggets on the table.
The bottom line is that the best things take time and effort. Even with social media.
Some six months ago I returned from a conference called Hutchmoot. It was my second time attending this small gathering of like-minded people. A Facebook group for Hutchmoot allows us to stay connected in the interims. At my first Hutchmoot, I had been very impressed at a story read there that had been written by a young woman. I don’t think I ever actually met her that year, but, through Facebook, had maintained something like a chicken nugget relationship. Then last year, at Hutchmoot, I spoke with her once or twice, about potty-training of all things. Way to keep things shallow!
In October, I had this Facebook conversation with Alyssa.
Alyssa: …I’m so disappointed that I didn’t get more time to talk to you. You were on my short list of people I wanted to really sit and dig in with. Then when the time came, for some reason I got shy….
Me: Oh, Alyssa, you were on my short list, too, but, to be honest, your beautiful writing intimidates me….
Alyssa: Goodness, I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to say to that. Do I get a choice in what “class” you put me in? Because I don’t want to be in a class that deprives me of the company of people I care about….
Me: …I keep thinking about our exchange here on facebook and feel just awful about it. Seriously, would you like to try again?… Can we just pretend the last conversation didn’t happen and start over? But could we move it over to email? Facebook has a rather superficial feel to me.
And so began a friendship that I treasure. We don’t communicate in one line statuses, but in old-fashioned multi-paragraph letters, sent back and forth via email rather than the US Post Office. It takes more time to write them, but, like a home-cooked meal, is definitely worth it. We’ve also sent each other things via the USPS and look forward to seeing each other in Nashville next year. In person. And not being shy or intimidated.
When Deirdre first went into the public school after being homeschooled her whole life, her least favorite period was lunch. The lunch room was chaotic and loud. There was a lot of nonsense that happened there. People could be rude and thoughtless. Very few deep relationships formed in the cafeteria. But, by her second year, she found some people, like-minded people, with whom she could sit and with whom she also got together after school.
I think Facebook and Twitter and other social media may be like a high school cafeteria. They can be chaotic and loud. There is a lot a nonsense that happens there. People can rude and thoughtless. But they can also be a place to touch base with a friend in an otherwise busy day. They may even be the place where a seed for friendship is planted.
But a real friendship takes effort and time. It’s not a chicken nugget to throw on the table.
Check out Alyssa’s blog at cordsoflight.wordpress.com
Read Rebecca’s Rabbit Room post at www.rabbitroom.com/2013/03/what-has-come-to-us/