Are we more connected today or more distant?
A few days ago, I received an email from a business relationship I had not heard from in a decade. He wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn.
I do have a LinkedIn account, but I have no connections because I lost my password and lacked the motivation to invent a new one. Every week, I get several emails saying somebody I never heard of wants to tie up with me on LinkedIn. I ignore them all. I don’t feel like I have the time for it.
But this email intrigued me because I always enjoyed talking to the guy before he pivoted to a new business related to solar energy. But I ignored it because of the buried password, until he emailed me a second time Monday.
I Googled him and found his company. I called and left a phone message. He called me back that evening, and I was delighted to hear his voice. We talked for a while, and then he told me he was in Fort Lauderdale for the funeral of my first cousin Louis.
I had not thought of or spoken Louis’s name in 60 years. His mother was my father’s sister, but she was an outcast in the family.
Yet strangely, her name came up in a conversation with my oldest granddaughter a few days earlier. She wanted to know about her ancestors and she had never heard Louis’s mother’s name spoken before, Ruth Stangle.
How disconnected we seem in the age of social media and inexpensive phone conversations. It took an almost forgotten business relationship to tell me that my first cousin, also named after my grandfather like I was, had died.
Why write about this today?
Because people need other people. Last week, I was in California watching my three granddaughters perform in a play they had produced and choreographed. This weekend I will visit my sister and her family in Maryland for my great nephew’s bar mitzvah.
Connecting seems more critical these days as my wife and I get older. It seems odd that I learned about a first cousin’s death from a guy I hadn’t conversed with in a decade.
Surveys say that today Americans are the loneliest they have ever been since the time people started taking surveys—especially young men. And it’s getting worse. Marriage is much less common and comes up later in life, if at all. Having Children is becoming less prevalent, with one child becoming a norm.
America is running out of workers. The available job openings do not go down even as the economy slows.
My first cousin died in Florida, and I knew nothing about his life. Honestly, I don’t even care.
But in a country of disconnection, loneliness, and emotional distance, my wife and I, and our children are determined to be the exception.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram are okay for others. Risa and I will make an effort to care for and hug those who are important to us as long as we have the strength and will. I believe they are hoping for it, like us, very much.
Question: How do you maintain connections with loved ones?