The people you know now are, for the majority, people whom you will be aware of for the rest of your lives. At least, I suspect as much. And if you are going to know these people that long, maybe you should be thinking about what to do about it.
I’m probably significantly above the bell curve, but for a good portion of the population in well-connected cities we’ve hit a critical mass of digital archiving, presence and casual acquaintance. Barring major catastrophes and radical changes in faith, it will be very easy to check in on anybody you know from this point onward. Light acquaintance is already very easy to maintain over long distances in time and space and will almost certainly only become easier as more people become aware and comfortable with the technology. Those people that are your friends will always be available, even if you don’t actively communicate for years.
What does this all mean to me?
Some friends just had a baby, many others have had theirs in the past couple years and more are expected. I am going to watch all those little people grow up. I am going to have stories for them about when they were kids (and I should be making sure to stockpile embarrassing ones to tell when they are older).
If I am going to be a useful person for my friends’ children to know in the future, I better damn well pay attention to how the world is changing so I am not just some old guy living in the past when they come to me for advice. I need to plan a little bit for who I am going to be in 16 years so that I will be a person who can help them.
What did my parents and grandparents do? What influence did their friends have on their lives? Which of those influences do I want to be most like? To be like the people I loved growing up, those people that I watched helped my family and make them happy, I still have a lot to learn (mostly about responsibility). I’ll also need to make sure I am healthy enough to be able to do some of the heavy lifting.
And I’m going to need their help down the line, so I need to cultivate respect and trust and when they excel I need to learn from them.
P.S. I guess this is my 500th published post on this site. Huh.