It all started, as it usually does, on Facebook.
First, I saw Casey tell Rebecca how excited she was about her wedding. I went to college with both Casey and Rebecca, so this wasn’t too surprising, even though Casey and Rebecca did not actually meet in college.
But then, Casey noted how much she likes the wedding invitations, which were done by Stephanie. Stephanie did not go to college with us, but I do know Stephanie because she’s John’s wife. I went to high school with John.
When I remarked on all of this, Stephanie responded by remarking on her own shock to see Jonathan (who is not John) in my profile picture. I went to college with Jon (not John), but Stephanie knows him (Jon, not John) from working together in Madison, Wisconsin.
It was at about this point that my brain exploded out my ears.
The world can be an incredibly tiny place. By and large, this kind of serendipity is a source of enormous fun, but it can also be an opportunity for reflection. And you all know how much I love shoehorning philosophical reflection into every available opportunity, so here’s some thoughts:
1. Don’t gossip. Ever.
Regardless of whether or not it’s wrong to talk about people behind their backs, it’s unquestionably stupid. After having an experience like the one described above, it’s kind of hard to doubt that the nasty things we say will get to the people about whom they were said.
2. Introduce your friends to each other.
We deliberately choose our friends, the people who enhance our lives and enhance our favorite part of ourselves. These people tend to have a lot in common, and our own friendships with them can only be improved by allowing the opportunity to befriend each other.
3. Use the internet for positive expression.
There’s plenty of talk about the dangers of using social media to speak negatively or as a proxy for real human interaction. Perhaps not enough is said about what social media can do that old-fashioned chats over coffee cannot. Were it not for Facebook, my rolodex of life might never have revealed its own interconnectedness. Whatever the perils may be of over-expression and touch screen-based comity, that kind of serendipity is usually a good thing.