Single-serving Friends

I have this problem. I hope I’m not the only one. Maybe you have it too.

You see, the internet has spoiled me. In a digital world, when I meet someone kind or interesting or inspiring, there is always some URL involved — or an e-mail address, a screen name, a gaming handle — some way to find this person again. Staying in connected, if you choose to, is a matter of a few keyboard strokes or mouse clicks. Easy peasy.

The real world doesn’t work like that, and that bums me out. I find that I always meet the most beautiful, charming people in passing, at the supermarket, at work, at school, and I have no way to ever find them again. Does this happen to anyone else?

Part of the problem is a bit of a weakness on my part, I admit: I tend to fall in love with everyone I meet. A kind word, a joke, a stranger going out of his or her way to do me some small favor — that’s all it takes for me to get all starry-eyed. I’m easy like that.

But you come out of these encounters with only an image of your single-serving friend’s face. At best, maybe a first name. Granted, it would probably be all kinds of awkward if you did track this person down, so maybe it’s best that you can’t.

I don’t know… I think it just bugs me that I can meet such a unique, wonderful human being, totally by random chance or by the will of the universe, and know that my chances of seeing that person again are a million to one. I make a connection — human being to human being — in what some people would claim is a big, uncaring world. Only, that connection is fleeting. We say goodbye and it’s goodbye for good.

I hate goodbyes.

Maybe the best you can do is take all the kindness these strangers show you and reflect it back to everyone else you meet. But then you’re perpetuating the cycle. Then you’re the random, wonderful stranger who appears out of nowhere to do some kindness, never to be seen again.

Well — looks like the only way to solve this problem is for everyone to be terrible to each other.

…That may not be ideal.

Hmph. Why can’t real life just be more like the internet?


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