Everyday Words

Connected doesn’t equal connection.

August 20, 2009

On NPR today I heard the story about a “John Doe” who was walking around Seattle and couldn’t remember his identity but could remember bits of his very fascinating life. The Seattle Times ran a story on him today as 12:03AM and by 5:30AM someone in China had written to say they knew who the man was – Edward Lighthart.

Mr. Lighthart has lived around the world, speaks three languages, was married and ran businesses so my first reaction upon hearing him identified was “won’t his friends and family be so happy to have found him?”

Yet, during the NPR interview with the Seattle Times writer, I learned that maybe that’s an old fashioned thought. For the end of the interview concluded with the writer saying, “Somewhere there is an apartment and a computer waiting for Mr. Lighthart.”

A computer? Really?

It saddened me greatly to hear this comment but then I thought, it’s probably true. Life is now so often disconnected from real human contact; we think we’re more connected but really, we’re just more plugged in. We can hide behind text messages, emails, twitters and updates which is supposed to mean we care but really, it doesn’t. It doesn’t make us more responsible to our neighbours, our friends, our family. It allows us to identify missing people quickly but not to act quickly in helping them out.

It was strange to me that this story, that I heard 12 hours after his identity was revealed, was told with him having no papers, ID, friends or family coming to claim him or help him. All he had was an apartment and a computer somewhere, we think.