Been thinking about staying in touch – the various options for doing so, and the varying ways in which I actually do, with different people. Obviously we can disregard actual letters, no matter how great I was at letter writing back in the day. I had penpals, I had real-world friendships that deepened dramatically and for life thanks entirely to the letters exchanged after we gained more geographical distance, I had a habit of elaborately decorating and enlivening the envelopes that carried these letters, but these days are GONE all gone, and won’t come back. So forget letters.
Emails of course have taken the place of letters, but also not really. They’re a bit too much like work. Why that is, I’m not quite clear; I mean typing is far easier than writing, it should be possible to swap emails very generously, but nobody does. At least none of my circles. Very occasionally, yes, a Proper Mail might turn up to delight the recipient, but it’s delight that is usually at least a little bit mixed with anticipatory guilt; oh crap I have to write back now. I never felt that about real letters. Odd.
Phone calls are the great divide. There are those who enjoy nothing more than a good chinwag, and those who will avoid them at all costs. I’m obviously an avoider. A select few of you know that you can call me and I will be genuinely happy to hear from you and we might even have a really good natter, but I’m very sure that every single one of you also knows from experience just how completely terrible I am on the phone, typically, and that I am never ever ever the one to call you. Sorrynotsorry. It’s not you, I’m just awful. Video calls, such a 1980s scifi fantasy, are the absolute devil and one of the very worst things about 2020 has been the normalising of videoconferencing DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP. It’s horrible enough for work, but people do this for socalled FUN now? To their FRIENDS? Worst idea EVER and completely deserving of my caps lock hissy fit.
So obviously the one channel that meets with my absolute approval is texting. WhatsApp is my very favourite thing ever (privacy concerns aside), and I am constantly dipping in and out of chats. None of the pressure of email or phone calls, just the instant gratification of sharing a thought or a photo with a beloved friend, knowing they can see and engage with it whenever is convenient for them. It’s brilliant. Group chats are even helping to slowly wean me off Twitter, which is of dubious value to the friends on those chats but definitely good for me, at least.
And then… there’s this blog. I’ve been blogging for well over 15 years by now but my intentions have morphed considerably. I used to write very much for an audience, carefully crafting my paragraphs for some semblance of wit. At some point, I chose to stop thinking about audience at all (and certainly to stop looking at stats ever); I also picked up the habit of the weekly check-in that was 5 Things (and not coincidentally, lost the habit of trying to hone my blog writing). It’s become a habit that is quite important to me, even as I roll my eyes at myself for conducting this very personal exercise out in public like this. And now, here’s the thing. Every so often, I am somehow reminded (maybe through a comment, or a private message or email) that a few people are still actually reading this. Family, old friends, more casual friends, work acquaintances…
YOU UTTER WEIRDOS.
I don’t even read blogs any more myself. (But, Nita, I totally would if you’d start again!) Here I am, writing little weekly letters to myself and pinning them on the garden wall, on the outside of the garden wall, and then being amazed that people actually see them. This is quite obviously a bizarre thing to do. I can’t justifiably call you lot weird, I haven’t got a leg to stand on; writing a personal blog in 2020 (and not even reading any others) is clearly eccentricity of the highest order; but still, how absolutely odd.
Anyway, hi, whoever you are. I don’t know what you’re getting out of this but I’m glad you’re here. Maybe send me a WhatsApp once in a while so it isn’t so very one-sided, okay?