According to Facebook’s Timeline, I made 99 new friends this year. That’s definitely something considering that I have none of their phone numbers. In fact, the amount of people on my Speed Dial has dropped considerably this year while the number of people I spend time with regularly, barring coworkers, has been whittled to about two. But is that really a surprise? Social networks have a stultifying effect on our capacity for actual social networking. Why express yourself conscientiously when you can do it in under 140 characters? Why share your announcement when you can tag yourself in someone else’s? Why create original content when you can stream some?
This year wasn’t all bad though. I’d say it was a good one, actually. I built up the nerve to leave the job that had made me a sheep to my own indolence. The impulsive change provoked a salvo of opportunities: it provided me with time to build relationships that would never have otherwise been possible; those relationships pushed for the creation of this blog; the blog helped propel the Jammi project, which then fueled a desire to pursue what is now my career. The most surprising part of all? I use the word “career” without dissolving into silent discomfort.
It’s startling. My frame of mind is nowhere near where it was twelve months ago; dignity seems to have found its way into the day-to-day and much of it is owed to 13 and 20 who drove me purely through their ambition. For the first time since graduation, I feel that I’ve accomplished something substantial.
But milestones, as they often will, trigger reflection. Do the relationships I now share compensate for the ones I’ve lost? Has life appropriately trimmed the fat for development’s sake? How will I know when balance is measured?
People say not to look back but isn’t that all that social networks have to offer? A recounting of the way things were; a blue and white scrapbook of some chimeric lifestyle; a contrived feeling of nostalgia.
For me, the new year must be about looking forward, about contributing positively towards the lives of others. It doesn’t mean I’ll hand over one of my kidneys at the drop of your hat but it does mean that I will call you without the self-interested motives that we somehow deemed fully acceptable in 2011.