SAN BERNARDINO, CA–To the wide-eyed, incredulous gazes of his extended family, UNC out-of-state freshman Peter Stebnitz regaled his loved ones with tales of distant and mysterious North Carolina, spinning yarns filled with exotic wonders such as pine forests, barbecue, Southern accents, and–No, you know what? It’s Thanksgiving. Why don’t you go downstairs and try to be sociable? Your family is not that bad.
Your cousin Greg goes to Ohio State. You should talk to him about college. He’s a nice guy.
Okay, you don’t have that much to talk about, but you can at least make an effort. They’re all your family, after all. They love you.
A joke about freshmen and “Oh yeah, that’s probably happening.” Of course that’s what you want. But it would just be enabling you.
At least that out-of-state freshman is talking to his family. More than can be said of you right now.
Maybe it feels like you’re putting on some kind of an act when you try to talk with them, and to be honest, they probably feel the same way, to an extent. Fine. But they flew all the way here for a reason. They want to stay in touch. And they’re not going to get a better opportunity than now.
You can ask uncle Robert about fishing. You know he likes fishing.
Is this really better? Is this doing anything for you? Reading this article, clicking through slideshows about the Macy’s parade and Black Friday, and looking at whatever your friends posted about Thanksgiving this morning. Isn’t that all making you really sad? Don’t you feel sort of hollow right now? You should go talk to your family.
Aunt Linda sends you a card every single year on your birthday. She’s here. She and uncle Don are flying back on Saturday. Then you’ll have plenty of time for the Internet.
How much of an effort have you really made to get to know them? You might be surprised what you learn if you just listen.
You could ask them some questions about their lives. People love to talk about themselves. If you just ran into all these people randomly, you’d probably find them interesting. Right now, you’re choosing to not find them interesting. Uncle Rick went to Russia last year. Just ask him about it, he probably has at least one story.
Sounds like they’re watching the game down there. How bad would it be to just sit with them and watch the game?
Is the Internet still the way you want to go?
Look, sure, it’s a little bit weird that you don’t see most of these people for 364 days of the year–you wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to be a bigger part of their lives even if you tried–and yet, every time you come together, you have to assume this intimacy and cordiality that really have no reason to exist. You’re right about that. Congratulations. So why don’t you keep right on mindlessly clicking through the same five sites and ignoring them? If that’s what you really want to do, don’t let us stand in your way.