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But Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing

I am processing major transition right now. A couple of weeks ago my beloved pastor passed away and I miss him. I know he is resting in the bosom of the Lord joining my beloved friends and family members. Then, a best friend and running buddy just moved a few days ago from Los Angeles to a new life in Atlanta. My bestest friend I've known since I was 17 has bought a house in another city, hours away from me. Other close friends live in other states and countries now. Friends and I have shared many, many years of trials, tribulations, laughter, tears, joy, pain, births and deaths. Our relationships have stood the test and weather of time. And it's just dawning on me that ALL of my "nearest-and-dearest-to-my-heart" friends have transition into the "virtual" world. Virtual, meaning immediate contact is via email, phone, texting, Tweeting, Facebook, Skype and whatever new technology might spring up. Boats, planes, trains and long automobile rides will be the only means of "natural" contact with them now. Lord, what are you doing with me?

Years ago a high school buddy told me, "you haven't met all the friends you're going to know." My social media connections is evidence of that statement. I've connected with people from around the world and from all walks of life. But it's all "virtual" because what I know about them is what they post on their site pages. True, false, elaborated, exaggerated, or minimized, I get snippets about career, family, thumbs-up likes, thumbs-down dislikes, comment rebuttals to other comments, a few photos of family and social life, and other indulgences. I have "virtual" friends, friends and more friends that I haven't and may never see face to face. But that's OK because most of it is about connections of interest and some of it is business.

When I think about the virtual world a great portion of my relationships has evolved into, I can hear my all-time favorite song by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing." And I say to myself, when it comes to time and relationship with my closest, "acey-boon" friends, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing." I know I am going to meet, greet and make some new "natural" connections but I am missing my friends who have moved into the virtual world. I look forward to visits, reunions and reconnections so we can be in each others face and in each other's space again. I want to look in their eyes while we're talking and know that everything isn't alright when they say it's all right. I want to share meals, sights and scenes, critique what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste together. Ain't nothing like the real thing.

Even though the virtual world is convenient, I like the natural better. I don't order take-out from my favorite Chinese restaurant by phone anymore. I order on the premises and wait for it. Standing in long lines at the post office or supermarket doesn't bother me. I get to see, talk to, smile at, laugh with, sometimes complain with other people. My children and grandchildren live nearby and that is great compensation, because time spent with them is so valuable and precious. Maybe I'll finally admit that I kinda like their spoiled dog Sugar's lapdog indulgence with me more than she thinks she deserves it. It makes thinking about the transition of my friends into the virtual world "virtually" smoother.

So until those new "closest-nearest-dearest" friends come along so we can spend some quality "natural" time together, I will keep my DSL working so I can keep my "virtual" connections connected. But....Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing!!!"


Christine Brooks Martin is an Author and the Production Manager for the Sentinel Newspaper.

Category: Op-Ed


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