No Goodbyes on Facebook
This morning I made a list of all the goodbye’s I’ve said in my life (that’s what you get when you make a Buddhist write) -both big and small. With my pen firmly anchored onto paper, I drifted along with my mental winds that blew me from the casual kiss after dropping my girlfriend off at her work to the final goodbye I said just over a year ago to my young niece in her hospital bed, where she lay unrecognizably chained to a dozen tubes and monitors that kept her alive. I breathed out deeply and stared over the water surface I had nestled myself in front of. With my oat milk latte to go in my left hand and a cheese croissant I’d picked up on my way there to my right, I glazed into this September morning called my life. I’d had reminded myself of how little sense can be made out of saying goodbye. Two Nile geese flew over and prepared for landing. I went on with my list, a little more soft-core as my heart was still preciously morning fresh, and jotted down the hug I gave my friend on Tuesday when I left her on my couch as I hurried off to a yoga class and the talk-to-you-soon I told my mom on the phone, yesterday.
Suddenly I realized that my list contained no cyber-memories. No see you soons on Facebook, no goodbyes in emails, no be wells on Twitter. It struck me that I don’t say goodbye in virtual reality. There’s a lot of I want to see you soon!s and kind regards, ciaos and LOLs, but no proper goodbyes. Only reason I can think of is that the whole point of cyber space is that we never have to say goodbye since the whole thing is based on being connected. All the time. This virtual life is one long conversation, where we only take bathroom breaks. “That’s why I love it”, I thought, “I never have to say goodbye online!”. Because I dread saying goodbye. Always have. It’s maybe even why I write, I realized when I read Natalie Goldberg’s commentary to this particular writing assignment, saying “the reason we want to write memoir is an ache, a longing, a passing of time that we feel all too strongly.”
When we’re online, we don’t feel that passing of time so nakedly as when we drop off a friend at the airport. We thankfully drug ourselves with the idea –and to some extent real possibility- of being connected all the time. Interestingly enough, the reason why we love it is also why we dread it. It’s exhausting to be connected all the time:
Yup, saying goodbye might be a bitch, but really what’s the alternative? Even being connected becomes a drag, eventually. Unless you hang in there and become a Buddha, that is.
I wondered whether my goodbye muscles would weaken when I spend a lot of time in cyberspace. I’m not sure. It made me think of apocalyptic prospects of humankind collectively moving into virtual reality in 500 or 5000 or 5 years. What would that be like? A fish bubbled up the surface of the lake but I caught sight of it too late. I rose, packed my stuff and made sure I’d say goodbye and thank you to this place –one of my favorite writing spots. I wandered back to my car kicking acorns ahead of me that my dog Eddie enthusiastically fetched, her nails scratching the pavement in uncoordinated joy.