Why would an old grammy, alone in her bed, alone in her house, get up in the middle of the night and head for her computer?  She’s looking for a connection.  She knows that, short of an emergency, she shouldn’t call people and wake them up just to chat.  Instead, she turns to the machine,  hoping maybe someone has directed an email in her direction, or perhaps it’s her turn to play a Scrabble word.    Someone  might actually be up and communicating.  Perhaps not.  There’s always email, most of it cute things, political things, or another announcement that someone in Nigeria wants to make her rich.  But some of it might actually be personal.

If email doesn’t come through,  then maybe some of her peeps are up to something interesting.  She can look in on other peoples lives on Facebook.  She finds that a friend has had a new book published and is rejoicing in its coverage.  An acquaintance has cut the hair of all four of her kids.  A newly discovered blogger has written a convincing review of Twilight in which she calls it a misogynistic piece of hardboiled crapola.  A couple tells of their life in a Mongolian yurt in the wilderness of Seldovia, Alaska.  They have broadband.  They have a child.  They have no toilet.

It was on Facebook that I first learned I was expecting a new greatgrandchild!  One day Jason announced he had heard his baby’s heartbeat for the first time.  Later there were photo’s of the very pregnant mother.  A few days ago – behold – 9 lb 2 oz naked baby boy in living color!  They live hundreds of miles away and I would have missed all this were it not for Facebook.  An auntie comments: “The baby is so freaking adorable!”

Grandchildren may not be inclined to write regularly to grandma, but if they write to the world at large on Facebook grammy can get a peek into their lives, their friends, their travels, their troubles.

I played Scrabble with brother, Ernie, on Facebook.  First I was ahead, then he Bingo’d and was in the lead; then I Bingo’d and was ahead.  We were neck and neck until he finally beat me by 6 points.  I complained on Facebook and said I needed ice cream.  He responded that the ice cream was on him.  Hardly great drama but it is the stuff of family relationships.

I rarely tweet but I have one good friend (a priest) who has chosen Twitter to keep up with his world and I stop by occasionally to say hello.  Boy, is that man’s plate full.  He gives his followers a good inside look at the busy life of a priest.  One day Father Joe reports he is nursing a cold and he tweets: “Food offerings for Father in the last week: chicken stew from Rosalinda; chile and spaghetti from Marta; ham dinner from Mary Ellen. Good!”  Another day: “Called to hospital this evening. Could have used Polish and Apache languages. What a diocese! Holy Hour. Knights of Columbus met tonite.”  I understand totally why he tweets – it’s a quick, easy way to keep in touch – just a few keystrokes and it’s done — and I think how nice it is  that his parishioners can log on every day “just to see what Father is up to.”   The people love and appreciate a good priest.

Jennifer at Conversion Diary has an insightful blogpost about the time she gave up her computer for a week and what she learned:

The same force that drives people to slot machines is what drives me to my computer. I realized that when I mindlessly get online, every time I click it’s like pulling the lever on a slot machine and hoping to hit the jackpot. I’m hoping to hit a virtual jackpot — a blog post that changes my life, an email that blows me away, a hilarious video on YouTube, etc. And the truth is that there’s enough stuff online that if I clicked on enough links or spent enough time on email I would get that payoff I’m looking for. But, just like with slot machines, I need to be careful about spending endless amounts of time just sitting around pulling the lever.

Like Jennifer, I could spend endless amounts of time just surfing around and exploring.  It’s hard to call it time wasted – but there could very well be better ways to spend our precious time. There’s a thing called balance that we should be striving for.   On the plus side, I have to say that I am happy to be able to dip in the lives of my siblings, children, grandchildren and friends,  to see what they are complaining about, where they are going, what apps they are playing.   Sometimes I comment. Sometimes they respond.

For old folks who have access to a computer, I’d suggest they be shown how to visit their family-in-a-box, those relatives and friends who email or blog or use Facebook or Twitter.  For sure, they’d rather have real people actually present but they can enjoy being “in touch on line” when being physically  in touch is not happening.  To my mind, people who share their daily insights, struggles, and problems on the computer are more real than the fictional characters in a soap opera.  If there is no family in the house, the “family-in-a-box” is next best.  Linked in is much better than left out.

Personally, I  am blessed with siblings, offspring, and friends who I see fairly often, and I am so grateful for that!  Nevertheless, there are bloggers that I have never personally  met but  have learned to love because of the beauty of their spirit.  It gives me great pleasure to know that they exist–and if I, in my limited browsing, have found these few, the chances are that there are millions more out there, loving their fellow man and living lives that give glory to God.


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Reach out and touch someone. — AT & T