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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Do you know their stories?

<ir="ltr">When I was little, sitting around a campfire at my uncle’s cabin was the closest thing to magic I knew. Especially over the Fourth of July, when my grandparents, all of my dad’s four siblings and my countless cousins gathered together for some family time. The days were filled with boating trips to the sandbar in the middle of the lake, hikes through the woods with my cousins, pretending we were in a different world, and expeditions to catch crawfish by the lakeshore. It was loud, with meals a free-for-all, and we would sit anywhere we could find room. But at night it became quiet. We would sit around the campfire, roasting marshmallows (with many ending up burned in the fire) and drinking hot cocoa full of whipped cream. My dad, aunt and uncles would go around telling stories about their childhood, bickering over who was telling it correctly. My cousins and I would compete to try and tell the scariest ghost story. Slowly, people would leave to go to bed, and those of us remaining would look up at the stars, listen to the sound of lake licking the shoreline and breath in the night air. I remember falling asleep many times to the sounds of the cicadas chirping and people talking into the night, with the warmth of the fire on my face.

I know I am going to sound like an old person, but I am very afraid that traditions like this are dying. Now, I am not completely unrealistic, I know they will not out die completely since they are such a central part of our humanity, but I also think they will change more quickly than we are prepared for. I think when I am my parents’ age, these family times will become more touched by technology. People might still sit around the fire together roasting marshmallows and telling stories, but their cellphones will be in their other hand. Our inability to go even an hour without checking our various social media sites is controlling our lives, limiting them to interactions over the Internet.

We no longer make the time to talk to others face-to-face, because we know we can always quickly text them instead. We have become very good at feeling like we are still keeping in contact with others without really putting in the effort to truly be there for them or learning about their lives. When I look at the friends I have on Facebook, I do not know anything important about 99% of them. I do not know anything real about them, since all I know is what they put on social media.

I can maybe tell you they have a boyfriend/girlfriend or where they go to school, but I know very little about their thoughts and their goals for their future. I do not know about the sadness within them, and even if I did, I wonder whether I would reach out to them. Would I see them as just a profile picture, or a living, breathing person?

While I try to make an effort to be there for my friends, can I consider my Facebook friends my friends? Would I be able to sit by a campfire with them and tell them some of my childhood stories, and listen to some of theirs? Would I want to? I honestly do not know. The one thing I am certain of is that the world is made up of stories, and if we do not listen to them, we are not experiencing life. The Internet is not a person; it cannot see, hear, feel, taste, or smell. Yes, it has a lot of information, but it cannot give us the feeling of sitting around a campfire with the people we love.

I think other people recognize this too though. Like I said, it’s a part of our humanity. The fire, community, that feeling of together, it is what makes us human. While what makes our world work will change over time, I have to believe the same things will continue to be the center of how we live and what we hold dear.

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