Agatha Christie at work
I’ve kept a diary since 1956. (yeah – old enough to spell back then) and have warned my family that if they ever find them, please know I had a wonderful happy life, but tend to write only when I’m upset. This morning a friend who has been on a medically propelled roller coaster with her husband apologized for using our email exchange as a “venue to vent”. And that got me thinking…
In my work leading older adults in English-speaking countries to overcome their fears of the Internet and email, I realize cyber-use can invoke harmful scams on the elderly. But I still think the good outweighs the bad. Today makes me realize how many friends and family members I write to on the spur-of-the-moment — a thought, a fear, an idea! I think of how the unconnected 80-year-old in her apartment missed the immediate cyber community of mutual grieving after recent mass murders in Pittsburgh. And didn’t get an email or text from a grandchild asking “Are you OK?” or “I’m SO upset!”.
Emails are like whispered secrets when the lights are out at a pajama party…it’s one way communication until someone responds in asymmetrical time, and often we share thoughts and feelings with a keyboard that we might hold back face to face or phone.
So when dear friend apologized for “going on” and [using her email] as a “venting venue” — while adding “But that’s what good friends are for”, I saw so clearly that we could be there for one another — in a sudden spurt of truth. That one can pour out a thought at 2 in the morning to anyone else, anywhere. so long as they’re connected.
The other day, an elderly man who was tethered to an oxygen tank in a nursing home learned to use SKYPE for the first time. “Oh, man! I can do this with my kids!? I can see my kids all over the country??!!” When asked how many grown children he had, he said “Twelve – I got 12 kids, and I’m gonna get one of these things [a tablet] so I can see them!!!” He also learned to use email. Wonder if he’ll share his secret joys and sadness.
Yeah – venting venues are good places to go.