As a kid I loved to spy and eavesdrop on adult conversation.

For example, whenever my mom and her sister would get together and chat, my cousin and I would spy and overhear the most hilarious stories.

One of the neighbor kids had blue Star Trek walkie talkies like the ones in the photo. They were awesome and pretty high tech for the 1970s.

These walkie talkies led to more spying opportunities and we would report our findings via walkie talkie.

Thanks to Facebook I now get to be a spy again with a lot less work.

One of the most interesting things about social media is that it’s now possible to follow the story of someone’s life through the bread crumb trails they leave on Facebook without having to interact with them.

This excellent article in The Atlantic captures this perfectly.

She tells the story of  following an old co-worker on Facebook – a person she wouldn’t have bothered to stay in touch with in the days before social media.

Yet she finds herself getting somewhat caught up in this lady’s everyday storyline. Unfortunately this storyline has a tragic ending (more on that in a minute).

Because of the nature of my work, there are a number of people in my life (fellow copywriters, clients, bloggers I read regularly, etc.) that I know but have never met in person.

On Facebook I follow the bread crumbs of some of them and probably know more about their quirks and daily lives than many of the people I know in person.

There’s a very well-known blogger that I stopped reading regularly because, even though he’s a good writer, he shared so many details about his daily life that it was irritating to know more about his day than I knew about my kids’ or husband’s days – or even my own day! In other words, TMI (Too Much Information).

Then there are the people I once knew but they moved away or we’re out of touch but I can keep “spying” on them through their blogs or Facebook.

As strange as it sounds, through 140 character messages on Twitter I’ve come to know several other copywriters from all over the country. They know far more about my work, reputation, writing style, and reading habits than the non-copywriters in my life.

The main way I stay in touch with many of my local friends – and even neighbors who live practically next door to me – is through email, instant messaging and Facebook . There’s no doubt I wouldn’t know them as well if it weren’t for that communication.

Sometimes I get dizzy when I think about this.

At the end of  The Atlantic article the writer asks: “How do you cry for someone you hardly know? And for what was I crying? S or her story?”

Because each of us is a story, and inseparable from our story, to cry for someone’s story is to cry for them too.

And I think the opportunity to cry for someone you hardly know shows that, annoying as it can be at times, social media has made it easier for us to care about people we don’t know well. If only it would come with a pair of Star Trek walkie talkies.  :)

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Filed under: Stories/Storytelling

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