Every time I have an idea and run a search looking for an image, I'm reminded that other people have had the same ideas earlier and expressed them better. Well, such is life. The photo above comes from Lewi Blake's post that offers nine strategies for keeping in touch with friends and family. The list is useful, and, I notice, entirely digital. I'd add old-school options to their list: mailing letters, placing phone calls, and seeing people in person.
Here's my suggestion, and please remember that this is coming from a confirmed introvert: use online, paper, and telephonic platforms to keep up on the day-to-day existence of people you care about AND to set up in-person gatherings that you attend when possible. I'm always impressed with people who don't let logistical difficulties (such as living in rural CT) get in the way of seeing the people they care about. (I'm talking to you, MR.)
But all of the above are ways of staying in touch, not the reasons why it's important to keep in touch. Much research has come out recently about the link between human interactions and maintaining one's mental health. Both deep, meaningful interactions and superficial daily interactions improve our mental health and well-being. The more we connect with others in person, the better off we become.
At the same time, people live more online than ever before, which means that we're interacting though our screens and having fewer chance encounters with people we haven't already allowed into our digital universes. (I do get the irony of writing about this problem on my website.)
The worst part of the pandemic was bad for so many reasons, but one bright spot for me was that I participated in several Zooms with people all over the country I hadn't spoken with in a while. A group of friends from my high school class (Hi, FWP pals!) has continued to Zoom every other month or so these past three years. Chatting with them again, having them back in my life even though most live at least a thousand miles away, has meant so much to me as I navigate adulting. It's been a source of joy to reconnect.
This week, as our oldest students graduate and our other students get ready to depart for their summer vacations, I think about how important it is to stay in touch with those we care about. I hope my students, in the class of 2023 and from earlier years, will come back to visit often, and before you can make it back to Lakeville, I hope you'll all stay in touch. We'll all be better off if you do.
Any good stories of reaching out to someone after years of lost contact? Any suggestions about staying in touch? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.