Link By Link: What We Drag With Us


Link by link and yard by yard, I am pretty sure I am making a ponderous chain to rival Marley’s Ghost with my Internet activity.

At my death, I won’t get fathoms of iron cable made up of all the evil little deeds I performed in my money-changing hole. I’m a military spouse. And the money-changing holes aren’t hiring.

Instead, I think I will be every bit as surprised as Marley when I get the cable made up of every word I ever wrote on the Internet, every picture I tagged, every scrap of me saying whatever I wanted on video.

Usually, I don’t think about my chain to the Internet any more than anyone else. We Americans are continuously reminded that how we live online is being monitored, captured, censored. That is so much blah, blah, blah.

Until it isn’t. In the last month, we have seen generals brought down by what they wrote in emails. We have seen more banner stories about Navy officers being fired

Two civilian co-workers on a field trip to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lost their jobs over a disrespectful photo that went viral.

Yet I confess that unless the FBI shows up with a warrant to examine the 30,000 flirty emails I plan to send to a bunch of generals, who cares about my link by link chain to the Internet?

This time of year, I think I do. I think I should. This time of year, I think we are actually supposed to stop and pay attention to how we are living with each other and how we are creating a military community online.

I know I screw this up all the time. I can get snarky in a post when I am trying (too hard) to be funny.  I have hurt people’s feelings with a blog. I sometimes "like" the things I shouldn’t on Facebook.  I am sometimes short with my mom and my husband and my daughter in emails. I am always one to click on tragedy or scandal before uplifting messages of hope and goodwill.

Just like Marley, I wear the chain I forged in life. I girded it of my own free will and of my own free will I wear it. And while I might know this ponderous chain grows ever longer, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about it.

Maybe it is enough to become newly aware of our own eternal link by link chain to the Internet and to our military community. Not so we can give it up -- that would be silly. 

Maybe this is the time of year we consciously add to good feelings of our fellow man.  Maybe we get a little more like Scrooge’s nephew instead of his partner, seeing Christmas as “a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable time … when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

So I will be posting more cooing comments on pictures of babies this month. I’ll be sending more messages of encouragement to moms of toddlers and teenagers.  I will be oozing love and understanding to my own servicemember and all those deployed. And I will be hoping that those good things somehow make the ponderous chain a little easier to bear.

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