This weekend, my sister celebrated her 30th birthday in Manresa, Spain, where she has been living for the past 4 years. My whole family (mum, dad, brother and sister-in-law) flew out to Spain from every corner of Europe for a big lunch in the Spanish countryside, with all of my sister’s high school friends, university friends and Spanish friends.
I have very recently been to visit my sister in Manresa and, of course, this is probably the worst time of the semester to go on holiday for the weekend because deadlines are-a-pproaching. So I decided to give it a miss.
Needless to say, I felt like I was missing out big time, but social media platforms came to my aid. I know I have said before that watching other people’s lives unfold on social media can be detrimental to one’s well-being, but with it being my family, and because I know deep down that I would have been a wanted guest among them, I didn’t feel left out, I felt missed.
So I got to see who was there, what they had for lunch, my sister giving a heart-warming although somewhat alcohol-fueled thank you speech to her guests for coming, what presents she got, how the weather was, what they did after the lunch and much more thanks to videocalls, Instagram stories, and WhatsApp.
I don’t think of my family as particularly technological (nor do I think so of myself, hence why I am taking this minor), but I must admit, I think we adhere to a trend of recent years which is that of being able to share relationships long-distance in a very effective way. We quite literally all live in different countries, having completely different lives but we somehow manage to stay very close in that Italian, circus-like, drama-filled way.
What I find fascinating about this trend is how it exponentially multiplies the chances that we are given in life. If it is true that job opportunities, relationships and many of life’s surprises come from random occurrences and unexpected meetings, then it is also true that we are now making space for more of such occurrences and meetings than we ever did before. Now, we can fly to the other side of an ocean in a few hours to attend a conference, or we may access a job vacancy website for a position in another hemisphere, or we may instantly contact a friend through unlimited text, media and calls.
Is this affecting our relationships? Is this making it so that we are blinded by countless life-chances? Is it making us leave behind our affections in the pursuit of new, individualistic experiences? One could definitely claim this, as many did with my parents after they decided to live in separate countries while staying married. Or as I am wondering, now that my degree is coming to a close and I am planning to take up chances in remote corners of the world, far away from my family, friends, and boyfriend. Is it because I think that taking up work experience in far-away places is more important than those relationships? To this day, I’m not sure.
But really, the bonds we build during these experiences shape the way that we relate to our older ones, in the same way that making new friends in the Netherlands did not make me forget my Roman friends, whereas it did make me see them both in new ways. We belong to a generation who has its heart in many places, and that will likely never feel far from home.