I am about to teach my Wednesday night yoga class when I hear that a young man from our town has died of an overdose. He was 19 at the time of his death.
The news sits heavy on my chest as I teach. It begins to dawn on me who this boy was. My husband coached him in basketball. My two children went to grade school with him. As I am brought back to memories of my own children at that age, it is almost unbearable to imagine the fate of this young man through the memory of the boy that he was.
At some point, my mind turns to my 19 year old “boy.” Now enough of a young man to be living on his own in Nashville while he follows his dream of making it in the music world. Thinking of this world, and its proclivity to destroy lives through drugs and alcohol, I feel a hungry mother’s need to hear his voice. To be assured that he is OK. And while I don’t necessarily enjoy sharing this kind of news, I am yearning to connect with him through the feelings that have been stirred up through the news of this death.
Only. He has already “heard.” Seen actually. “Someone posted it.” Days ago as a matter of fact. And here we are again. And again, and again, and again. With seemingly no end in sight to the ways that the technologies can disconnect us from the intimacies of our lives together, derailing us emotionally and relationally.
What is deep, private, personal, and meant to be life-stopping gets transmuted into what is shallow, public, impersonal, and just another piece of information in an endless news feed; nothing whatsoever available through this medium that would set this event apart from sexy pics, political rants, sports stories, cute sharings and narcissistic ramblings.
Inch by inch, or more to the point, post by post, the most precious, holy and noteworthy between us is being swallowed up in a technological sea of sharings so vast, continuous and muddied that it drowns out and obscures what more than anything else requires the respect of human conveyance in real time and on a human scale. And so, in the end, what will it matter that we can post every single detail about our lives immediately, while simultaneously not being known in the ways that matter most?