Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. – Cesare Pavese, Italian author, 1908-1950
A few people I know are quite anti-Facebook, some stridently so. Apparent reasons vary. I say “apparent” because I do not truly understand most of the reasons. Sure, I hear the words “why do you bother to put all this crap on Facebook that no one is interested in” and “I don’t do Facebook” and the like. And whilst I both accept and respect these types of viewpoints, I really don’t understand the concerns which people have which sit behind these comments.
All of which is OK.
A few days ago I had a conversation with one of my “anti” friends – face-to-face, needless to say. This conversation got me thinking about the role of social media in relationships, and particularly from a traveller’s perspective, because, if nothing else, this blog will be publicised via Facebook.
Parallel to this I have been doing a lot of Camino reading lately. I have read various books, web posts and forums, and blogs. A very topical one I have been reading is a contemporaneous blog entitled Boots On Laces Tied, which can be found at https://sarahbrookecamino.wordpress.com/. I don’t personally know Sarah Brooke from Victorian in the traditional sense, but somehow I do feel that I’ve gotten to know her through her writings, and have told her as much. And one of the strong things I have drawn from her writings is the number and nature of relationships she has formed in her journey across Spain.
Only today I read a blog post my daughter wrote about the single day she and her partner spent, just for fun, walking one stage of the Camino, from Pamplona to Puente la Reina. Again, what struck me was her reference to the number of people they met on their one day walk, and the fleeting bonds formed.
I wouldn’t have known anything of these stories without the “modern” forms of internet-based communication – blogs and Facebook.
I have met some wonderful people on my recent travels, and I keep in contact with many of them, sometimes close contact, via these modern media. I can almost guarantee that without the likes of Facebook they would have been relegated to simply names in dairies or faces in photos.
So with 50 days to go before we head off on our million-step journey, I find myself wondering about the nature of relationships in this modern world, about the people we might meet and whether we will be just ships in the night or whether the fleeting bonds we form will harden into something more durable, what role the electronic processes and media will play in that, and lastly what the walk might teach me about these wonderings.