It was a simple status update of a friend from college that took me into the confusing reality of our current world.
The friend had marked herself “safe” in the Paris Attacks.
Only a few days before, her Facebook friends knew she’d arrived in the city for work. Now, she was informing us that she was alive.
It was instantaneous. So much better than the jammed phone lines and busy signals after 9/11. It was the first time Facebook activated the Safety Check feature after what Zuckerberg calls a “human disaster” as opposed to a natural disaster.
But of course, it begs the questions: if her status were to change, would she be in the position to update it? If a loved one in the area does not update his or her status to “safe” does the omission mean they are missing, or in danger, or worse?
In a way, it’s similar to the day-to-day anxiety parents of teens live with when they say “text me when you get there,” and live with worry until the text arrives. What happens in those moments when the teen forgets, or messages don’t “send”, or the phone runs out of power?
It’s not that either the texting or Safety Check features are bad. But their power to obviate uncertainty is limited. And maybe that’s why I had to wonder: now that we have so many ways to communicate our wellbeing, how can it be that we’re all still so anxious?
To paraphrase the wise yogi who lead a room full of souls early Saturday morning: the only thing you can control in the world is the love you send into it.
It is increasingly difficult to remember that, or remember that after the status update, there's more work to be done, not externally, but in our own thoughts and focus. We keep checking our phones. But, we don't feel any better.
Sarah Vander Schaaff is the editor of Sarah's Notes and loves to write, but it can get lonely at the keyboard. Submit your note here. That means you, wonderful reader.
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