I have found that with social media, no one fades away. In the old days, when you left school or a military command, odds were that you would never see or hear from most of your chums ever again.
That is not true any more.
Thanks to social media, we are in touch with old shipmates, schoolmates, and – in my case – even a couple of guys from grade school. In the last year I have been visited by a great friend from high school and a fellow crew member from my first ship in the 1980s (the mighty USS COOK (FF1083)), both of whom I had lost touch with until reconnected by Facebook.
Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that the Bible has a point – you should treat others the way you want to be treated yourself. Because if you don’t, twenty years down the line that person you slammed might just pop up on Facebook and become part of your life again.
And as I think back, I’m not so sure I was always the guy I should have been.
Was I loyal to my troops? Did I set a good example? Did I treat them with dignity and trust?
To make matters worse, I was an Executive Officer – twice. They are not exactly known for their cuddliness. How many Sailors did I treat harshly, figuring I would never see them again?
Whatever the case, it is too late to sweat it now. I think I was a good guy. I think the troops liked me enough – and if they didn’t they didn’t hate me enough to tell me.
Today, thanks to social media sites, you can never outrun your past. People you knew decades ago can touch your life again with the flick of a button. Old school chums will rekindle friendships. Buddies and shipmates from years gone by will will reach out and say hello.
With all of the contact from people we all have encountered along life’s footpath, each of certainly has hundreds of old contacts that may someday re-enter our lives.
And you know what? That’s a good thing.
For good measure, though, you might want to be careful how you treat people from here on out.