My grandfather passed away last week at the age of 98. My wife and I traveled to Memphis for the funeral. I sat in the fourth row on the wooden funeral home pew. My wife on my left. My sister-in-law on my right. Cousins all around.
My iPhone 6s was on airplane mode in my pocket. About 30 minutes before the funeral, I had been testing our new Axios Charlotte Today iOS app. I’d also been tracking/analyzing our growth and engagement on Instagram that morning. The Agenda recently hit 52,000 followers.
Midway through the service, I looked around the room at the hundreds of people in tears. People fumbling to grab tissues. Some crying quietly. Some crying loud.
After the funeral reception I jumped in the back left seat of our black rental car, opened up Instagram and flicked through photos – carelessly liking whatever I found in the feed.
Needless to say, my grandfather didn’t have Instagram. He never had a computer. Couldn’t figure out the mouse thing. Sometimes when I was too lazy to mail him a letter, I’d email his secretary and she’d print out the email for him.
In the back of the rental car traveling back to where we were staying in Memphis, I was struck by the depth and richness of my grandfather’s relationships. You could feel it like you can feel thick humidity.
It forced me to reflect on the depth and richness of my own relationships.
I want depth and richness. Not just in my personal life, but in everything I touch. I believe these qualities are scarce in today’s world.
I spend a lot of time on the internet. I love the internet. I love services like Instagram.
I’m not one of those people that says the internet is bad for culture. I believe it’s fantastic for culture. I believe that it’s okay that people look at their phones a ton.
But the internet, just like a phone, just like a car, just like a pen – is merely a tool. And, tools are used to do something.
There’s no doubt that our tools are becoming cooler in and of themselves. I’ve had to constantly remind myself not to become obsessed with tools.
Deep, rich relationships are arguably the most exhilarating thing I’ve experienced in my life. I want to design my life to have more of them. How will I use the internet to achieve this goal? I don’t know exactly. All I know is that I want what my grandfather had.