Dan Smith: Face-to-face contact remains the best method

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 12:11 AM

We all have had friends through the years. Some we’ve had since we were children. Those are the rarest of all since we tend to disperse all over the country. As they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

When we are aware that someone we know is preparing to move away, we always say, “Let’s keep in touch.”

Unfortunately, time and distance take their toll on that promise. When I moved here 20 years ago, I had some friends say that very thing. It didn’t last. I’ve made new friends here which seems the natural thing to do.

There is something new that brings people together better than anything I know: Facebook.

I believe that there are now around a billion people connected to that social medium. I finally broke down a few years ago and signed up for it. It’s better than email in that there is a great visual perspective that email doesn’t have.

Of course it has a downside. Some people post things that might be offensive or crude, or that just turn you off.

The other day, I was reminded of a friend I knew in Cincinnati that I worked with for many years. I started counting the time down and realized that it had been 28 years. I found him on Facebook and messaged him.

The next day, he answered back and we connected again. Looking at his picture, I could tell he had aged, but it was still him. I suppose I looked the same from his point of view.

He had moved to southern Kentucky to a place where my parents and relatives were from. We plan on meeting soon to talk over old times. There are a few other friends that we both knew, but were unable to locate. Perhaps they don’t do Facebook, or maybe they are deceased.

It saddens me that I have procrastinated and not kept in touch with them.

I tried doing Twitter, but it just wasn’t the same. I made a lot of contacts, but I have basically abandoned that medium. Some of the other media out there just aren’t for me.

I’ve found that Facebook is an excellent way to keep in touch with my grown kids that live far away from me. Even though we call once a week, it’s Facebook that unites us cheaply and quickly.

Years ago up in Cincinnati, all we had to communicate was the telephone. You call from home or the office, or you put a dime in a pay phone and made your connection that way.

Actually, even 20 years ago we had no other way to really talk to each other. Who would have thought that everybody, even grade school kids, would all have phones that could connect to anyone in the world.

With that device they can look up any piece of information they want at the flick of a few keys. They even have an encyclopedia at their fingertips.

We have become so accustomed to all of these modern conveniences that we are losing the ability to function in a real way. We get lost in our devices and make them our electronic companion — almost replacing real people. We hear them on the other end, but see them less.

We have games and other entertainment on these hand-held devices and we don’t even miss real people. We now have artificial intelligence as our new friends.

I prefer face-to-face contact if I can get it. I do have a phone, but no Internet. I have no games. I only use it to talk on. I’m at the point now where I dare not go out of the house without it. If I do, I feel as if I’ve left my wallet or lunch behind.

When I had just the regular landline phone, it never bothered me at all to leave the house. Now, it’s like I have to be able to communicate with somebody at any moment. You never know when a call might come through.

I hope to make contact with other past friends as time goes on, and to hopefully rekindle some of the good times we had before life moved us apart to different geographical locations. I hope there are people out there that feel the same way and are trying to contact me.

Hopefully we will meet in the middle.

— Dan M. Smith is a Cincinnati native and Gatlinburg resident. He is the author of two novels. His son is serving in the Air Force. E-mail to dan0729@yahoo.com.