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Sunday, February 17, 2019 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

In praise of social media

Mike Gaunt

Many years ago, back in the mists of time, when ‘she who must be obeyed’ was but a little girl, she played with, and was great chums with, another small girl. Let’s call her Odette.

They grew up in rural Norfolk, when there were no mobile phones and being naughty and rebellious was confined to sneaking into a neighbour’s orchard and stealing an apple! It was a time of big skies, warm summer days and making little dams and mud pies in the local stream. Pets were not confined to dogs or cats or hamsters, oh no!

These were the days of pet ducks, of sheep that were the family mascot and of pigs that walked to heel! The halcyon days of yesteryear had featured large in reminiscences I had listened to over many a glass and enjoyed vicariously.

I was brought up in Awali and, whilst it was idyllic, it was not rural England. There were no streams to play in nor were there fields to cross. I have my wonderful memories of life in Bahrain in the 1960s, but I am unable to fully appreciate these agricultural anecdotes.

I, therefore, heard these tales which were a cross between ‘the darling buds of May’ and ‘the railway children’ with delight and huge interest, hearing her tell of wellington boots which were stuck in mud and of illicit hooch bought from the pub’s ‘offie’, when dads were toiling away on the combine harvester late into the night.

Imagine the delight then, when an invitation to be friends with a certain Odette Krupke, from Holland landed in the inbox of a social media channel belonging to ‘she who must be obeyed’.

Messages flew back and forth between Portugal and Holland and, just recently, a marvellous reunion took place. Some forty five years had elapsed since these two (let’s be honest) middle-aged ladies had gambolled around as wiry, energetic and mischievous youngsters.

It obviously takes more than a few days to catch up on the best part of a lifetime; children, husbands, college, university, careers and pastimes are dissected and discussed. Incidents are recalled and chuckled over, mutual memories are conjured up and relished. Nevertheless, a start is made and a reciprocal visit suggested.

A friendship, long moribund, is reborn, refreshed and renewed. The children have all grown up and have put away childish things; the adults still recognise the qualities which forged an adolescent friendship and a new bond is formed.

But, and here’s the thing: without the social media suggestion of a friendship, this would not have happened. A fantastic week of reunion, of getting to know an almost forgotten friend would be unknown. I am not trying to defend the way that some of these tech-giants seem to conduct themselves.

I am not praising technology in all circumstances. All the same, without them and their associated technologies, this sort of event is less likely and the quotient of delight in the world is less.

So, without over-egging the social media pudding, I just want to say ‘well done!’ It’s a great example of technology working well to make our lives better.

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