After months of deleting unwanted e-mail messages and texts—like swatting at gnats while walking through a swamp—I recently decided to start removing myself from both the swamp and the gnats. The folks sending me information have been gracious in removing me from their mailing list.
Because I spent much of my professional life distributing what I hoped was useful information to congregational leaders, there’s something just a little bit sad about removing my name from any digital list. Essentially, unsubscribing is an act of refusal—turning down something that someone else thinks would be good for me. That feels just a tad unfriendly.
The loss of commercial connectivity is one thing—information overload doesn’t help anyone. But the larger question of cutting off relational links is another kind of “unsubscribing” that spreads into other areas of life. Places where it’s really important that I stay connected–where bonds of friendship, responsibility and care do not diminish or disappear. That’s why I ask myself: How am I still “subscribing” to the friends—and near-friends—who want to helpful? Who wants to help me? Where are relationships growing weaker or fraying at their edges? Whose delightful personal information could never overload my spirit?
Recently I read an encouraging article (see link below) about “weak-tie” friendships that might have suffered during the pandemic—an involuntary unsubscribing?—and remembered that I have a responsibility to my peripheral friends as well. If only to stay in touch—difficult in a virtual world, but still possible—I can offer them the gift I hope they would reciprocate: Offering me attention and regard.
I hope you can see these blog entries as one way to keep friendship among us sturdy and lasting. And thanks for the attention you send my way!