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What? Somebody's Searching for Me?

In a time when we can have dozens—or even hundreds— of  “friends” online,  Helen Oxenberg, our “Answer Mom, ” ponders the meaning of all these connections.

I keep seeing on the Internet this seductive invitation to “See who’s searching for you.” It really makes me nervous. Does that mean I’m really invisible? How long have they been searching? Why haven’t they found me? On the other hand what if I give in and follow all the instructions and find out nobody’s searching for me! Would that be devastating for my self image? Does that mean nobody’s even interested?

On the other hand if somebody is searching for me maybe I should look into it. What if I inherited money from some unknown relative and they need to find me to give it to me. Or, who knows, maybe I was kidnapped as a baby and my biological relatives have been searching for me all these years. If so why do they want me back? Actually I do remember as a child getting really angry at my mother from time to time and accusing her of not being my real mother. Hmm–did I know something?

The other urgent message I keep seeing is “Contact the Friend Finder. Your friends are waiting. Find out how many you have.” They’re waiting? Where? Is there a waiting room for unknown friends?

What is friendship today and who is defining it for us? Is this a guilt trip or an old kindergarten exercise like, “I have more friends than you. Some I don’t even know are still looking for me. So there!”

To me a friend is someone close. I only have one or school-delays.com nursing leaders and those willing to step forward propel the profession and association mission forward. two really close friends. Close because we share our stories; we laugh together at our foibles and cry together at our troubles. We know each other and forgive each other if necessary.

Something strange is happening today. People seem to long for connections even if it’s with strangers they can then call “friends.” Are they afraid to be alone? Writers used to long for “a room of one’s own,” a quiet place where they could be alone with their thoughts. Today walk into any coffee shop in any city and at every small table you’ll see a cup of coffee, a laptop computer, and a person absorbed. Each table has become a room of one’s own. Do all the other people in the room, doing the same thing, make one feel connected and therefore feel like friends?

Oh, promises the friend finder. I’ll help you find old friends from the past, maybe even someone you sat next to in kindergarten. Well, I think if I had some really old friends from the past I would remember them and know where they are. I must admit I don’t remember who I sat next to in kindergarten.

Has something changed in our culture? Is every thing now a competition? Is there a sad fear of not being counted? Has quality been surpassed by quantity?  If so I’m afraid I’ll have to count me out.

But of course things have changed drastically, seemingly in a flash and when they mobile casino change it always feels like “suddenly.” Once there were covered wagons taking months and months and sometimes years to cross the continent. There were even fights with the Indians on the way. Then “suddenly” there were trains and the miles seemed to disappear along with the Indians who were retired (?) into reservations or Western movies. Once there was fire that gave warmth while it gave light. Then “suddenly” there was electricity and the fires took second place to the light bulbs. Once there were horses roaming the streets of New York and a Pony Express galloped across the land delivering messages from far away. Then “suddenly” there were cars and trucks and trains and planes and someone called a mailman who walked the streets delivering those messages and the ponies became retirees or hung in there and gave rides to children. Once none of the women were allowed to vote or hold public office alongside the men. Then “suddenly” there was a women’s movement called feminism and women went into the voting booth and the workplace and the Congress. Once you could only make a baby if you were a man and a woman having sex together. Then “suddenly” there was in vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers and donor eggs for sale to help make a baby for whoever wants one (or two or more). Once we could only walk on planet Earth or only fly in Earth’s orbit. Then “suddenly” the space shuttle came and now they can fly you to the moon to meet that man you always knew lived up there. Once there were only phones and addresses and mail to connect us and now “suddenly” there’s a Social Network and it feels like everybody can now find, talk and see everyone in the world.

So with all these fantastic changes why are you still searching for me? Why can’t you find me?

Here I am.

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