Tell someone they’re special, remind them you care, share a memory, say “I love you” — it’s easier than ever. Thanks to mobile devices and social networks, love is becoming more scalable. Tweet or status update how you’re thankful for their friendship. Text, Skype, message, or email how their support has meant the world to you. Wall post, @reply, +1, upvote the people who make your life more fun. In just a few seconds, you’ve strengthened your relationships and made someone’s day. Today, everyday, take a moment and tell them.
We stand above a bottomless well of gratitude. Say “thank you” to a hundred friends and you still won’t run out. It’s now so quick and inexpensive to communicate across long distances, the only limiting factor is our spirit. Sure, texting 20 friends in a row with the reasons you love them can be a mental work-out. But imagine doing it by phone, by letter, in person?
A digital sign of gratitude is no replacement for a real hug. It’s a complement for use when our loved ones are out of reach. 20 years ago it would be nearly impossible to tell 100 people you love them in a single day unless you saw them all in person. Now, between face-to-face conversations and embraces, you can tell those far away that that they’re still in your heart. Through technology we can increase Dunbar’s number.
A mass text is better than nothing, but a even a short yet heartfelt, personalized message will make someone feel extra warm and fuzzy. The antithesis of this is the standard Facebook birthday wall post. “Happy Birthday!” says you care, but it can also say you’re fulfilling some self-imposed duty, absolving yourself of guilt. It doesn’t take much extra effort to call up a shared experience or some advice they gave you. Then they’ll think “hey, he really cares”.
If you have a little money to spend, you can send someone a Postagram. If you don’t, Pinger’s TextFree app lets you send texts, calls, and receive voicemail at no cost. Messenger apps from Facebook and Google+ let contact people without evening knowing what device or service they’re on. My favorite? Drawing someone a ridiculous portrait and posting it to their wall — the less artistic the more endearing.
On some days like today, Thanksgiving, and birthdays, the real challenge is remaining present, being here now, avoiding interruption. Don’t sacrifice a great moment to check that buzz from your pocket. Consider waiting for a natural break, til after dinner, once you’re alone, then share and reciprocate.
Our devices only detract if we let them. With will power and compassion, they can help us express our feelings like never before.
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