Monday, February 8, 2010


At our gig over the weekend, I met Lisis Blackston, a blogess who writes so well about creating a balance in our lives. In ways that I can identify with so easily, she writes about making changes using her own life as an example of an honest account of the ups and downs we all go through.

Although we had never met, I recognized her immediately as she entered with her husband and son. After reading her work for a month, I realized the adventure that was transforming her life had landed her in Vermont, making us neighbors no matter where she lived in the state.

We had been trading comments and then emails that went a little deeper. Lately, I was helping her investigate some options here in Burlington. Already feeling like friends, between sets, it was easy and delightful to sit together, get to know her family and cement a friendship that was only possible because of a connection made on the World Wide Web.

I have developed many such friends. In the last 15 years (has it really been that long?!), since first learning email, our lives have been transformed by a technological revolution perhaps as profound as the invention of the printing press. Social networking makes daily communication with people around the world an instantaneous phenomena that we now take for granted, opening such amazing doors and profoundly affecting the way we relate to each other.

Hayden Tompkins is another friend I have never met, but hold very dear. Via her blog, “Through the Illusion”, I have witnessed her movement from lawyer’s office to self-improvement encourager of awesome to work in child abuse prevention. So honest and forthright about the emotional challenges in her life, she demonstrates how an optimistic attitude can blast away nearly any roadblock.

Privately through email, we have supported each other through trials as enthusiastically as celebrating the successes in our blogs. I have never heard her voice and barely know her eyes, but appreciate how much she has been cheering on my humble advances.

Through Myspace, I have discovered a wealth of talented musicians. Seeing that one was coming to town from Toronto, by the time she arrived, I had gotten to “know” her and practiced her songs well enough online to join her on stage when she got here. Brave enough to take the risk, Emma Cook could perform with an additional guitar and vocals without the expense of travelling with her band.

Many other bloggers and musicians I have gotten to know in this year, or followed for a time and peek back in occasionally to see their message is still strong and clear. Some I have listed on my sidebar, but life flows too quickly to stay current or give enough accolades where they are deserved. It is a limitless exploration that allows us into the hearts of so many wonderful people.

Since my confinement to the couch, with just a few small windows looking into the woods and out to the Car Wash, I have been able to stay quite social on facebook, finding and pouncing on a wide variety of friends whenever they log on. High school friends not seen in 40 years and people in China I have never met give me insight to their daily lives, connections to humanity to remind us that we are all not so very different in our hungers and thirsts, passions and insecurities.

And like any wonderful distraction, there are dangers and excesses that hurt as much as give pleasure. Desperately frustrated in the waning years of my marriage, I compulsively resorted to sites on the internet—in hopes of finding some sort of appreciation—no matter how illusory—for the man I could be. Inappropriate and miss-guided, devastatingly hurtful to the withering marriage, the temptation depleted my energy to deal with reality in a healthy way.

Recently, in a burst of insensitive enthusiasm, I emailed one of my lesser quality songs to an old and refound friend because it had originated vaguely from an experience we had shared in the ninth grade. Typical of teenage naïveté, the song blasphemed a mutual friend who had been brave enough to open her heart and did not deserve the laughter I occasionally made over it these many years since. Before our renewed friendship could really take hold and prosper, she was offended enough to block me and request I never contact her again. The ease of overexposing ourselves online makes me regret my behavior and the loss of my ability to talk to someone who matters to me.

Today, I watch my son constantly text on the phone and chat through instant messaging, a fabric of friendships as natural to him as smiles and handshakes. This generation is raised on an entirely different set of rules and expectations (if there are any at all). In the middle of the night, through cams, they can peek into each other’s rooms more comfortably than I ever took a date to the movies. The effect of this on their relationships will be most interesting to witness, but I am clearly not one to judge since I am now twice divorced and sitting alone on the couch.

They are on their own, with only our foibles to help them.

Please share with your friends


Lisis said...

Hey, Kip! It was so great getting to meet you this past weekend. Next up: we've both got to find a way to meet Hayden! Maybe we can talk her into a trip to Vermont... in the Fall. :)

I totally hear what you're saying about this new generation of kids, and their super-electronic, inter-connected lives. This is now the norm, come what may. All we can do is arm them with self-esteem, decency, and a sense of values, and hope for the best. ;)

Hayden Tompkins said...

Fall? I'm there!

It is rough that the song was not received the way you intended. You are a kind and thoughtful person and I can't imagine that you were anything other than lighthearted.

I know you take these kinds of things deeply to heart but I would urge you not to. Everyone has their own perception of life, the universe, and everything.

P.S. Isn't is so WEIRD to feel so connected to people we haven't met?? But I do!!

Laurie said...

Interesting thoughts on the ways our kids communicate today and what that might lead to.

With the virtual meetings, I think it makes it easier to allow others into our lives via the web cam, that we wouldn't have done before, allowing them to see us in a private way. It's like it is fantasy because the person on the other end isn't really there( but, yes the other person is really there). It can and is getting people in trouble.

I have enjoyed our friendship Kip. You add sparkle to my day! :o)