Thursday, May 13, 2010

Held in Check

Children have no inhibitions. They don't mind running around naked through the sprinklers on a hot summer day. They will pick their noses in public, much to the chagrin of their parents. They will happily show their family rabbi their mother's vibrator, as if it were just another toy, having somehow opened the nightstand drawer that was not childproofed well enough. Yes, children reveal all.

Somehow, as we get older, the parental messages are drilled into us. We learn not to talk to strangers, and not to ask Aunt Dorothy about the wart on the end of her nose. We learn not to reveal family secrets to our teachers, how much money daddy makes to the neighbors, or that Johnny still wets the bed at age five. We learn about "social cues" and how to pick up on them. This line in the sand is invisible and taken-for-granted, a " line in the sand" across which we must not step, lest others become upset. The problem is, we all have different lines in the sand, depending on our culture, family history, and country of origin, which can make for a few disagreements among family and friends.

In today's world, it is easier than ever to just walk away from friends with whom we disagree without confronting them-face to-face. I suppose this has been true since the development of the written word; "Dear John" letters spring to mind. But in today's world of electronic marvels, it is easier than ever to sever ties. One does not even have to leave a post it note. One merely "blocks" a "friend" on Facebook; that person is then simply erased from one's life by clicking on the "Block This Person" box.

Somehow, I do not think it should be so easy to "unfriend" someone, or, as they used to say back in my day, to end a friendship.

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