Just now, my mother, 85, called to ask how to delete a contact from her iPhone. The idea that someone who has fewer than twenty numbers on a phone would still be irritated by the occasional glimpse of a forgotten, or unwanted, person’s name, made me smile.
Many of us are constantly tripping over forgotten business cards in wallets and handbags, or momentarily brought short by an email address that remains as a glowing ember of a fire long put out. Is the correct thing to do to discard that information on the basis of time passing and opportunities lost, or to see if there is still something there worth rekindling?
This is of particular interest at the end of a strange week. Last Tuesday, I asked a beloved friend of 20 years for a relationships break. In recent times we have brought out only the worst in each other and it’s unhealthy. Then on Monday, a contact I made four years ago at a PWC event and with whom I continued to exchange hellos across Linked In, joined family and friends for a Bank Holiday lunch and it was delightful.
At every level, connections are constantly being made, rested, deferred, or broken. The success of sites which connect lost schoolmates, colleagues, friends, and family is testament to that. Twenty or thirty years after breaking contact with people, being given the opportunity to reconnect can be life-changing. Today’s fossil is tomorrow’s Jurassic Park prize exhibit.
“Don’t do it, Mum,” I said. “You may need the number later.”
Very patiently my mother pointed out that at her age she was unlikely to look for, let alone find, old contacts. Anyway, she added, the number she was excising was that of the dodgy roofer who left old beams in her front garden for three months and covered her garage in ugly, corrugated plastic. “But what if you need him to re-fix the plastic?” I asked.
Too late. She’d pressed Delete.