This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
July 3rd, 2006

Lost and Found?

Even comedian Jay Leno mentioned it a couple of times this past week. Americans are more and more disconnected. No close-by family, no one hardly knows their next-door neighbors names, and the only 'social' contact is at work. The kids fare a little better, they make friends in school and if they don't see them every day, they do have the Internet and text messaging. Cell phones are reasonably affordable unless you get sucked into one of the high-priced plans or someone abused it. But for the most part those contacts are superficial and shallow.

I've talked before about 'used to be' when families were close and knowledge about most anything was passed from family member to the next generation. Fly fishing was passed on as well.

And there were the opening day gatherings, sometimes family, sometimes a group of folks who had fished together for years. Fly rods were admired, flies tied, stories about everyone's adventures were shared and embroidered. They fished. It was a grand time.

The time the average family spends in a house is (according to the last census) three years. Not much time to nurture friendships. Unfortunately, friendships do require time. Something which today's modern families are hard pressed to find. The word 'family' hardly fits today. A family dinner? Attended one lately?

Parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers and cousins are spread out all over the world. Even a phone call to them is bypassed in favor of something, anything it seems, more rewarding. As time passes it becomes more difficult to make and keep those family connections. Without them we feel isolated.

Besides family, the sense of community also seems to be gone. A great share of the American public doesn't vote. Mostly because they could care less. They don't want to be involved in their communities affairs, don't want to know how their local tax dollars are spent, or who is spending them. They may have some very vocal opinions on what goes on in Washington, DC, but not enough to be active in even local politics. Big talk, no action. (Or as my late mother would say, "All yack and no shack.")

We have lost something important with all our modern wonders. It all boils down to a sense of belonging.

Which brings me to a couple of phone calls, and email this past week having to do with FAOL Fish-Ins and a road trip taken by a couple of the FAOL folks down to Tennessee.

The jist of it all is that those who attended the past Fish-In held in Pennsylvania had a wonderful time. Folks who had never met, some of whom had barely participated on the Bulletin Board went and couldn't believe "how nice" everyone was. How much they learned. How much fun they had...and for sure was there going to be another next year?

You can read the Part One of Jack Hise and Mike Flanagan's road trip to meet two other FAOL folks in Readers Casts for yourself, but it's pretty obvious that these four men made a serious connection. The rumor is they caught fish too.

There are more of 'our folks' who get together and fish, or tie flies, or just to talk. There is a kinship among our readers, one which is based on a common frame of reference. Those who frequent the Bulletin Boards or Chat Room probably feel closer to some of our folks than they do with their family. Information is shared, ideas discussed, encouragement given and prayers too. Some kidding back and forth keeps the boards entertaining and lively. A healthy thing.

And when folks meet in person, either through something they arranged, or one of the Fish-Ins the reaction is the same. Warm greetings and joy. Also a healthy thing.

The conversations go on long past dark and the dwindling campfire. The connections last even longer.

The sense of belonging and community are lost in many ways, but here at FAOL they can be found. We hope you find what you've lost. ~ The LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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