Pen Pals & Facebook - Better with Age #6

Posted by Jessica Hegg on

In today's over-connected world, sometimes less is more

It's only taken me a few decades to figure this out, but I think I've finally learned that I don't have to say absolutely everything that's on my mind.  The world will continue to spin on its axis without me giving my two cents about every little thing that comes along.  My learning curve for this particular lesson has been pretty steep in my life, and I've certainly taken my lumps, but I believe it's finally gotten into my head that sometimes it's best when I don't let people know exactly what I'm thinking.

For instance, when my eleven year old granddaughter Elise asked me if I wanted to follow her on Instagram or be her "friend" on Facebook, I didn't say the first thing that came to mind.  Because the first thing that came to mind would have broken her heart.

Of course I want to keep up with her, and not just during family vacations and holidays, but there's no way I want to be on social media.  It's just not something that I want to be a part of.  Now, I couldn't just say that to her, for she's at that age where every tiny bit of rejection completely destroys her, and besides, she's always been a sensitive kid anyway.  So I bit my tongue, and then did something that always works with pre-teens and teenagers alike:  I played the role of the befuddled grandpa who can't figure out any of that newfangled technology.

"Look," I told her, "even if you showed me how to set up an account, there's no way I'd ever be able to remember how to use it when you're not around.  It's just so confusing!  But I do want to keep in touch, so let's try something else."

And we went into my study, where I pulled out some vellum paper, envelopes, a fountain pen, and a bottle of ink.  While she sat next to me, I hand-addressed three envelopes to her, using the fountain pen.  She was fascinated.  "Now, for the next month, I promise to write you three letters.  But you have to write back each time, so let's put my address on a few of them for you to take home."  And I gave her the addressed envelopes, some paper, and an extra fountain pen with an extra bottle of ink.  "For you to take home," I told her.  She was delighted.

Well, crisis averted, and now I have a loyal pen pal.  I'm sure she's one of the few kids in her class who writes regular, old-fashioned letters to her grandpa.  But I'm thankful--she's getting close to the are where kids get a little annoyed with their grandparents, and I'd like to put that off for as long as possible. Forever, if I can manage it.

Of course, the truth is, I'm not nearly as "befuddled" about computers as I pretend.  I know all about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. I just didn't want Elise to know! I even had a Facebook account for a while, but I deleted it after a couple of months.  I just felt too uncomfortable about all those private things that people choose to share on-line.  Some of it was interesting, I guess, but on the whole, it just didn't feel right for me.

And I discovered that having Facebook made me want to check my iPhone all day, and I didn't like that. Right now, I try to only use my phone for three things: to get and make phone calls, to check the weather, and to check my glucose levels on a special app that I have (my monitor synchs up directly with my phone.)  I don't even like texting anyone; I'd rather hear their voice.  I know HOW to text, of course, but I don't want to become a "serial" texter.  Sometimes, when it comes to communication, less is definitely more.

Until Next Week,

Christoff's Dad

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