To “like” has less meaning now than it ever did.  Liking something used to be done after an emotional attachment was made with that “something.”  I grew up doing it that way.  I still do.  There was less to like, then. I was exposed to stuff that was physical, in real time, and it was only in the moment that I made my attachment.  I remember finding the Partridge Family homage-to-Mondrian’s-Composizione-1921 school bus in a parking lot on the way home from the park one day.  I was six years old.  I “liked” that bus.  I had seen it on television.  I had wished I could sit next to Laurie Partridge and kiss her.  I sat in the seat that I wished I was sitting next to her in.  She had been there, I knew it.  I could feel it.  I reached out and I felt the bar in front of me, the one you were supposed to hold on to in case of a crash, back when school buses didn’t have seatbelts.  It was the same bar that she held on to.  She probably rested her head on it a few times. 

Now, when I am on Facebook, that new digital pacifier that billions of people have replaced reality with, I sometimes come across that bus.  It will be in a post, one from someone reminiscing about a time when they had seen that bus, maybe for real, or maybe on a fifteen-inch color TV screen with so-so old-fashioned analog reception.  And when I come across it I hit the like icon and scroll on. 

But I make an emotional attachment at that moment. It’s an attachment to a real emotion I had once.  Nearly all the “like” icons I click nearly all the time are for things I have seen or heard or felt or wished I had. 

I have been around for a long time, so there are a lot of “things.”

But I didn’t feel it.  I didn’t touch the bar in front of me where Laurie probably rested her head.  I didn’t feel her presence, her energy.  It was just a picture on a fifteen-inch color laptop screen with a so-so up-to-date high-speed digital wifi connection.  Nearly everything in my life is, now. 

And I don’t like it. 

Chris Plante

November 24, 2018