Despite the popularity of the HBO television series Big Love, monogamy is generally accepted as a requirement for a mutually beneficial, long lasting relationship. Research has shown that divorce can be stressful enough to actually making you sick. So it puzzles me how breaking ties with coworkers after a job change or layoff is so widely viewed as insignificant, an afterthought, something to be shrugged off.
If you add up all the minutes and hours and days you spend with our colleagues at work, the number of words exchanged, the laughter, the drama, the forging ahead through the daily grind together, you realize that you spend a lot more time with your work friends than you do with your spouse. Yet when you leave your job for something new, breaking up with your work buddies is generally considered to be a non-issue, just another day living the American Dream.
I suppose it makes sense. Americans have been reinventing themselves ever since they could get far enough away from whoever they were before. To a certain extent, that means out with the old and in with the new. I’ve done it myself. I’ve been through it myself often enough to know. It’s a fresh start with new responsibilities, new people to know and new things to learn.
When I think about all the people I’ve worked with through the years, at the Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, WBUR, from as far back as the Land Ho! Restaurant on Cape Cod until now at Topaz Partners, it reminds me that there are good, compassionate, funny, kind, creative, smart people in the world. Not everyone has their name in lights, but there are plenty of superstars, people gifted in particular way that may be subtle but as unique as their fingerprints.
Facebook is an easy target for criticism. It’s a gigantic for-profit enterprise that sucks up your social DNA to the extent that Facebook knows you better than you know yourself if you aren’t careful. It’s creepy when Facebook tells you that you need to “reconnect” with a relative or friend. It’s even creepier when Facebook is correct. But Facebook gets points for keeping me connected in some small way with old work friends. I don’t mean connected in pursuit of a networking opportunity job reference, or other personal gain. Ocassionally sharing a laugh, exchanging pictures of the kids, or just being there is what I mean. Insignificant things. Or perhaps the most important stuff of all.
In prior eras I might never have seen these people again. I would have thought about them, though. Due to life’s daily repetitions, something would have triggered a memory once in a while. And I would have missed them. Now we both know we’re here, we’re alive, we’re forging ahead.
That means something real to me. What do you think?