Whenever I ask my students to come up with advantages for the technology and internet, they always state the same thing: be aware of what is new in the world and connect with relatives that are far away. I always say that they should be a little bit more creative because that is a too-much-common-sense idea and it does not happen as much as they suppose. Little did I know that it would happen to me.
Internet is a very useful tool, for the good and for the bad. It’s as various as the person who uses it. I use it as much as any other person. Maybe I use it less than the majority, but daily, nonetheless. I use it for school and news since TV as lost its appeal, a long time ago. In recent years, I have used (and still use) Facebook to promote my books and keep in touch with the cultural happenings of my islands. I also use it to connect with some students and I will use it to little else. Never did I though that I would connect with family and be one of those cases that my students so commonly pointed out as an advantage of technology and internet.
From both sides of my family I have a lot of uncles, aunts and 2nd, 3rd generation cousins. However, for different reasons, my family was never a very social one and I, being from the youngest generation, little to nothing did/do I remember about my cousins from a generation older than mine, specially if they are away from the islands, site I was an infant. But, internet kicked in, Facebook happened and, in one week time, I am able ‘speak’ to them and know about my family, much more than I ever did.
The act of reconnecting is somehow a strange feeling. A very good feeling, don’t get me wrong! Nevertheless, it is a strange one. My parents were always people who would, willingly, tell me and my sisters and brother, stories from the past — from our families’ past. And those moments were and still are priceless. And now, I have other ways of knowing about my heritage.
Sharing stories and information about one’s past just by a keyboard gives me, at this point of my life, an amazing feeling of belonging; a feeling of not being alone in the world regardless of the real distance between us. I guess, one way or the other, at a point where the world is going crazy over the notion of being closed in and letting everybody out; at a point where people, all over the place, are struggling to stand up to all the mad and absurd gaps created by some stupid and ignorant people — a gap between us and the other who are from a different gender, nationality, creed and even opinion — getting together with one’s long “lost” family is an eye opening.
I can’t promise a daily conversation but I can promise to say hi, as much as I can and to try to straighten our bonds as close as possible, and I promise to share the feeling of family that my parents were so adamant to teach me and my siblings. I always felt that a bit of me was missing. Now I know why. Now I don’t feel it as strongly as I used to.
It’s my turn, it’s my time to make the younger generations know that they have a bigger and more diverse family than they though and by it they are so much better than they were, yesterday.