We hear a lot these days about how social media and generically-termed “technology” are ruining the ways we see and interact with other humans. These conversations take place in the office, on blogs, or — in my case — on this website or at parties where I scream my views about Facebook over obnoxious music to someone who doesn’t really care what I think. At any rate, we know that people can’t even pull themselves away from their cell phones to cross the street, and we know that pimply teenage boys have trouble dating because the only girls they have ever liked are the ones that they LARP with.
So things are changing: communication is changing, relationships are changing. But sometimes (for the present, at least) we are cast into a physical, face-to-face connection with another person, and this connection has the potential to shake our very being.
This was the case with Amanda Berry and Charles Ramsey this past week. These two individuals, disparate in age, situation and gender, were thrown together unexpectedly and at precisely the right time in a life-altering event. In all probability, these two people would never have met if Ms. Berry had not been kidnapped and enslaved. But they did meet, and I wonder if now they will develop a friendship. I don’t think that Ms. Berry (or Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight) will soon forget the man who was integral in effecting her escape and newfound freedom.
And in a surprisingly heartwarming angle to this horrific story, we see another way in which women thrown together unexpectedly have developed a relationship that can be supportive to both parties involved. We have now learned that Ms. Knight may choose to now live under the care of the Dejesus family. We don’t know much about Ms. Knight’s personal history, but it seems she is estranged from her mother (as is her brother) and had been even before she was kidnapped; because of this, she has nowhere to go now that she can go anywhere. But where before the kidnapping she had been part of a home situation that was less than ideal, she is now wanted and welcomed in by another (and hopefully, more stable) family. She and Ms. Dejesus can brave the return to normalcy together with support from the only other people who know first-hand the horrors of that house in Cleveland: each other.
I’m sure these women would have preferred to live normal lives and skip out on the ten-year hostage situation if they had had a choice. This article is of course not an attempt to sugarcoat this story, but rather to learn from it by examining potential lessons that can be salvaged from the heartbreak of three women, their families, and their community. One takeaway from this story for me has been that we often meet people unexpectedly and we are seldom given the foresight to know if the person we are speaking with for five minutes at a dinner party will play a bigger part in our life once the steak and cocktails have been consumed.
In all my general fears about the state of our world and specific fears about social media, I seldom remember that it’s the little things that shape us the most, that some of the people we meet may have unexpectedly large and positive roles to play in our lives. I am often scared of the “what ifs” of my future, but some “what ifs” can be pleasant, and these are the “what ifs” that make life sweeter and more poignant than it might otherwise be.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ A Discussion on Leaning In and Having It All, and Why It’s Maybe Not For Me
♦ What Amanda Berry Has Taught Me
♦ Zach Braff the Everyman
♦ My Facebook Recovery: Three Years Strong
♦ Real Housewives Echo Some Real Values