Monday, August 14, 2006


Relationships, connections, make the world go ‘round. They come in all shapes and sizes, from acquaintances to relatives to political and religious affiliations to the largest relationship of all, organic life. Our existence, without family, friends or pets, would be bleak indeed. We (which pronoun is here meant to include all forms of sentient life) are naturally social. There are exceptions to that rule, but only a very few. In the main, people (and creatures) crave contact with others. (We state the obvious here only to clarify our own thinking.)

This likely to be maundering line of thought has been occasioned by a couple of things, among them online connections, friendships, and the story that we have been relating.

There have been sociologists, professional and otherwise, who have bemoaned the rise of the Internet because it leads people, so they say, to become more isolated from "real life." This, while it may be technically true in a microcosmic sense, is not the only circumstance that leads people into a state of isolation. Physical disability and loss of relationships through death or distance are among other factors that may lead to a shrinking of the social web that connects people.

We have, in the past, referenced a few stories of people who die alone in their homes, whether through the lack or inattention of relatives, neighbors, friends, or employees of human-resources agencies whose workload is so large as to negate their well-intentioned efforts to care for those who live, by design or necessity, in solitude. These stories are invariably sad, and lead us to wonder how such shocking neglect can occur, but the sorry truth is that it happens all too often, and frequently for the most mundane of reasons. Many of the subjects of that sort of story would have benefitted greatly by having maintained connections with others.

It has for a long time been clear that people form many types of connections, as witness some viewers of soap operas, who become passionately involved in the fictional lives of the characters and, should they meet the actual actors, treat them as if they were the characters. The same is likely to hold true in the cases of some readers of online journals or compelling stories.

The relatively new institution of the "blogosphere" (a word we personally abhor) and in particular the phenomenon of journals appears to represent a reaching out by people to connect to others in ways that they may not otherwise have been able to. Those of us who maintain journals are familiar with the ebb and flow of visitors to our pages, and to a greater or lesser degree, we may hope that among those visitors there will be those who like what they see and return for more. Our writings and the responses represent, in a fashion, a validation of the idea that we are possibly worthwhile, that what we have to say might be interesting to others. Most of us are thrilled when we receive feedback, in the form of comments or emails, from those who have read what we have to say and been moved to respond.

In some cases, there will be people among those visitors who will connect on a deeper level, and begin to correspond outside the pages of journals. Oftentimes these relationships will arise through the agency of a commonality, a shared experience or condition, by which the individuals involved will join to form an impromptu support group, including a growing number of other like-affected people. In other cases, the relationship will spring from a shared political, religious, or personal outlook. No matter from what wellspring they are derived, these connections can become real and lasting, depending upon the commitment of the individuals. At other times, as with any friendship, whether online or offline, a certain amount of neglect will cause relationships to suffer, and eventually wither.

Neglect, of course, may have more than one cause. It may spring from necessity, wherein a proprietor (or proprietess, if you care for that distinction) of a journal becomes momentarily incapable of contributing entries due to circumstances such as the death of a loved one, illness, or unavoidable upheavals in one’s daily life. Here we must mention two people of whom we are aware - Barb, who has an inspirational journal entitled Hey Let’s Talk (she has a number of journals but this is her current one) and CYNDYGEE, whose two main journals are The Real World of Cyndygee and Pal’s Place. They are, for one or another reason, unable to inspire for the moment those who look to them, but they shall in time return and their devoted visitors await the day when they are once more writing. Barb and Cyndy, we hope that you soon recover and begin anew to contribute your particular brands of sunshine.

Those who enjoy reading understand that the success of a story (and in some cases, a series of stories, such as the Forsyte Saga) is frequently dependent upon the inhabitants of the story. While a talent for description is worthwhile, a tale is ultimately driven by the ability of an author to bring her or his characters and their interactions (that is, their relationships and connections) to life, and to involve the reader in those lives. We who read are much more likely to enjoy and remember a story that allows us to participate in (and perhaps relate to) the existence of vivid and engaging characters.

On a more personal note, Bonnie and I are privileged to be the recipients of some wonderful comments in regard to our story, and we have noted that one character in particular has intrigued readers to the extent that they have felt compelled to muse upon the fate of that character. While we ourselves are incognizant of her fate, we can say that she has surprised us by her tenacity (and, dare we say, spunk?) She has assumed a larger role than we at first expected, and we, as do the readers, wait to see what is to happen next.

Whether fictional or real, our relationships and connections to others give to us, as the case may be, pleasure or pain, arouse in us strong emotions, bring to us a fuller realization of our place in the world, and recall to us that none of us is, should or need be truly alone, unless we wish it to be so.



mutualaide said...

Well.  I am speechless (and it is not the first time this has occured here in journals) because you [both] have so eloquently put on paper what rolls, babbling about my mind and cannot be put forth coherently.  Ah -- forgive the spelling, would ya?

mymaracas said...

You've captured the essence of online community. It's surprising at first to experience the very real connections and friendships that arise this way. In my case, the online experience has resulted in a number of lasting relationships, many of which have spilled out into the "real" world. I'm glad to count you two among my online family.