In the Olde Days in the Olde World we lived in one community for most of our lives, unless/until we emigrated a world away, never to see that Olde World or our friends-&-relations ever again. Never ever.
A family member who emigrated to Ireland sends me an NYT article on how knitting can be a revolutionary act. One who emigrated to the USA sends a wee video of a fuzzy and completely improbable bird that looks more like a Muppet than a living thing: the Great Potoo. One who stayed in the Canadian city of his birth sends a new-to-them word: indocile.
Just a generation-or-so ago in this country we knew our relations because they lived near us. We knew our parents’ friends. We knew our neighbours. Heck, we knew our neighbours’ friends-&-relations.
A neighbour sends me a blog post on ChatGPT in scientific writing by one of his relations and a recap of some irritatingly good photography by people whom we can’t decide whether we’re happy-or-not to not be related to, if you can parse that. A work “neighbour” sends me a photo of a mystery bird for identification by my Bird Help Desk, a relation of mine.
We knew the older/younger brothers and sisters of people we went to school with. We knew who had married whom.
I flip a tweeted proofreading “funny” to an editor friend in BC, a post about a Complaints Choir to a singing friend in AB, a set of groaner-puns to one unlucky grandson and a silly map (from folks who specialize in same) and a Harvard Business Review article on decision-making to grandchildren in AB, ON, and CO.
Our community is not what it was, that’s for sure. I don’t live in the same city as my family. I don’t know everyone on my block. I never met their parents or their siblings or their kids. I don’t remember their school antics.
But it’s not all loss. Has it ever been so easy to share interesting bits with those with whom we share interests? Has it ever been so easy to connect to a friend-or-relation’s interest, even when we don’t share it, we just know about it? No. Never ever.