On ‘Going Away’
Julieanne Smolinski

How sad. Is this only about love or also about friendship? Do you have any friends? I will admit that having friends and falling in love can be hard work. There are parties to give, dinners to attend, the bereaved to comfort, crises to share and favors to do. It can be exhausting, but there are payoffs. Granted, they can’t be redeemed on Amazon or for a Lyft ride.

I think the change started in the late 1970s or 1980s when people decided that social work — that is, the work of having friends and looking for life partners — was just too distracting from one’s single life and required too much artifice. The whole “a lady or gentleman always knows what to say or do” thing vanished. It was seen as false, even if it had helped so many. Think of it as a protocol for dealing with strangers. Think of where the internet would be without the ICMP or TCP/IP. The “P” in those is for protocol, the stuff C3PO was so good at. Protocols might be artifice, but they can lead to real contacts. The 1970s and 1980s were the golden age of the 800 number, catalog sales and ethnic food delivery.

This was also the time that play dates and activities replaced free play time for children. Another set of protocols vanished. Children lost the ability to explore the world and meet new people on their own. It has been two generations lost. It is not just sad, but worrying. Those protocols made it a lot easier to navigate adult life.

Still, that was some good writing. You do have style though a bit florid save for a short piece. I do hope you have more human contact than appears here. Your mother is almost surely older than you and likely to die before you do. Those are just the odds. Surely you have others.

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