Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Perils of Reconnection

Reconnecting with old classmates from 30+ years ago is always good, or so I thought till recently.

After a long break, an old classmate of mine, who had been in my class all the way from kindergarten through college, contacted me via Whatsapp to mention that the old schoolmates from 10th standard were trying to get in touch with me to add my name to their group. Apparently, I had been out of the loop for over 30 years, while they had managed to keep in touch, willy-nilly, through snail mail, then email, then the social media in recent years.

It was a big thrill to go back and see the enthusiastic Hellos and how are you doing, what happened to you in the intervening years welcome posts. For a while. Then it started to go back to what happened to just about every other Whatsapp group that I am a member of: Birthday posts, accomplishments of kids/photos, vacation photos, etc. etc.

And then it struck me. I am not a sharing person. I don't like to post photos of my kids or activities or vacations. The only people I would do that to are close members of my family. I wouldn't hesitate to share photos one-on-one in person, but over the internet, it is a line that I don't want to cross,which may be odd, because I share a lot about myself in these blog posts. But you won't see any personally identifiable photos of me or my family.

So, in the hubbub of reconnection with old schoolmates, when an 'inspirational' post was put up by some girl (or woman now) that I faintly remembered as ever-smiling J, something about a minister advising a youngster by handing him a rosebud and asking him to make it unfurl into a flower. The young man tries hard to do so delicately with his hands, but gives up on the task as impossible to accomplish without damaging the flower. The older minister pontificates on how God makes these bloom in good time etc. as the Prime Mover of the world, which is the moral of the story.

Except that I had to jump in with a semi-snarky comment "Why didn't the young fellow just place the bud in a vase with water and wait a day or so?" It was meant in good humor.

J must have been a little miffed at my spoiling the 'inspirational moment' that she was trying to share. She jumped back with a snarkier comment about my being able to use the brains that God had given me to good effect. And I, in all innocence, compounded the offense by saying it was just plain common sense and that simple observation of cut flowers that was all that was needed.

'You must have plenty of time to observe that, no such luck here', she zinged back.

Oh dear, back to high school again. I didn't know if  I wanted to revisit those days again. So much for the charms of reconnection; the perils were looming larger now.

It struck me how little I knew of my classmates from that time. I think that I was always a bit of an oddball, with intense friendships with maybe one or two girls who were in my class, and a general disregard for the rest, no more than a cursory friendliness. But they had retained strong bonds over the years, mine were much weaker and at this point of time, practically non-existent. They were a bunch of strangers to me, and I wasn't going to do much more than pay lip-service to staying in touch with them.

Sad to say, but that is exactly the approach that all this flurry of wishing to reconnect generates in me these days. Let bygones be bygones, and onward into a future without reference to a distant past.


Lekhni said...

Wow. I realize we are alike in a lot of ways - having a few close friends/ being out of the loop/ being very private online etc.

Last year, I also joined a classmates whatsapp group under very similar circumstances. Except my group mainly posts alcohol/ wife jokes, political stuff, or random rumors. In my initial enthusiasm and naivete, the first time I encountered a random rumor, I quickly checked snopes, found that it was untrue (no surprise), and (helpfully, I thought) responded with the snopes link. The classmate who posted the story responded with a rant about how he had a right to post anything he wanted and that he didn't have to fact check everything. He used to be such a nice kid too, so this was rather a shocking revelation. He was asking the group a few weeks ago why I (and some other women) never post anymore..obviously he never connected it to his rant, which is telling. I do find that group rather male-dominated and sexist.

Someone also sent me this article - so the sexism is apparently pretty common.

Sujatha said...

Ah, the old sexist joke poster problem! I've seen some of those on my college/school groups. I don't bother with commenting, and some of the more active lady members promptly shut them down with a well timed verbal slap. I sense another post coming on the categorization of my WhatsApp group. But this is more likely to be one tagged 'humor'.

And, I also considered sharing your link with my school WhatsApp group, even though it may get me kicked out of it :D