A lady from my church was in the grocery store, buying ingredients to make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving dinner. She couldn’t remember if pecan pie was made with light Karo or dark Karo syrup. So she approached another woman in the aisle.
“Excuse me,” she said. “Do you happen to know if pecan pie is made with light Karo or dark Karo syrup?”
“I don’t know, let me Google it,” said the woman, pulling out her phone.
The lady from my church felt very foolish, realizing she could have just googled it herself. But mom and I both felt so sad over this story. What sort of world do we live in, when choosing to ask a real human instead of Aunt Google makes us feel foolish?
It’s an epidemic.
I re-read Emily’s Quest, and I realized that that’s why it’s so hard to enjoy the book. Not because she almost marries the wrong guy, or because of the frustrating misunderstandings that separate her from the right guy. But because she spends the majority of the book lonely.
There are many problems that are fun to read about, even if it would be ghastly to experience them ourselves. It’s fun to read about someone being captured by pirates and having to figure out how to escape. It’s fun to read about someone being bullied, because we know the moment of triumph is coming when the little guy wins and the bullies lose. It’s even fun to read about someone almost marrying the wrong person, and then discovering whom it is that they truly love.
But reading about someone struggling with loneliness is difficult and awful. Even if it comes right in the end, it doesn’t seem to fix the awfulness.
I wish we would prioritize anti-loneliness the way we prioritize, say financial security. All the time we spend getting our degree, building our career, budgeting, investing, knowing that financial insecurity means stress and pain and unhappiness.
I wish we’d think about relationships in a similar way. Something to be deliberate about. In the same way we might move for a better job, we should be willing to move to be closer to family or old friends. In the same way we keep showing up at work even when it’s tough, we should keep showing up in relationship even when it’s tough. In the same way we make a deliberate plan to not be poor, we should make a deliberate plan to not be lonely.
And sometimes, we should deliberately ask the stranger next to us for cooking advice, instead of “just googling it.”