I got into the habit some years ago – pre-FB – of re-introducing myself whenever I saw someone I hadn’t seen in some time or didn’t know terribly well. Some folks bristled at the reintroduction, as if I were making a comment on their memories. It was protective coloration, too many people in that situation didn’t appear to know who I was and that hurt, or maybe they were playing power games, the ‘why’ doesn’t matter here. I got into the habit of giving them the benefit of the doubt. Made my life easier, permitted me to detach and get on with things. And recently, a man I’ve met multiple times who never remembers who I am – never – walked up and gave me a hug and asked how I was. It was the first time I hadn’t acted as if he knew me or should know me, I had smiled warmly/politely and had said hello, and suddenly he did know me. Which goes back to leaving space for others. But that and another experience last week have prompted the following.
Dear Nearly-thousand FB Friends and People Who’ve Seen My Work and Even Met Me,
I’m flattered when you know me in person, very much so. I don’t always know you, in part because my memory for names is alarming at this point (doing work to shore that up, but still). If you call me by name and I don’t respond with yours, it’s not that I don’t remember you or find you interesting, it’s that I don’t switch gears easily enough in this TMI age. And no, I don’t mean that you’re sharing too much/too personal/too arcane information, I mean that in addition to the sheer volume of things always going on in my mind, it takes me a while to process the world around me.
I believe that human brains are evolving again, and that younger minds already have an agility that even my mind, when young, lacked. That said, and not asking that you discount my intelligence or experience, please be kind when you speak to me, and please don’t assume that I will immediately know you or the last thing you posted or even the really important things you posted because I don’t see most of your postings – partly because I’m not on FB that much and partly because of FB’s bizarre algorithms. Or that if I did “like” or comment, it may have been a momentary, transitory, ephemeral thing, even if in-the-moment deeply-felt.
So again I request that you be kind. Please remember that I’ve got at least three works juggling around up there at any given moment, plus life considerations that might be a bit dense, given that I’m farther on in this life than many of you. My mind likely works differently from yours, as do all minds work somewhat differently from each other.
So please, cut me some slack. Share a smile. At least give me a moment to either get up to speed or admit that I’ve lost your name. In this instance, it’s not about you. Or about me. It’s about us, community, mutual-support and kindness.
Always about kindness.