The snow falls and DC shuts down. So during the snow day last week, I found myself home alone.
Only, we are never quite alone anymore. We have the world wide web and the comfort of Facebook to keep us connected. Reach out and touch someone used to mean you picked up the phone and heard a loved one’s voice. Now it means updating hundreds of loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and people you randomly met one night and forgot you friended with just the push of a few buttons. This is exactly what I did last week.
For a few decades, there was a happy medium between public and private life. Your inner circle was just small enough to be friendly and comfortable, while the world was big enough to be exciting give some anonymity.
In Hester’s Puritan town there was no broader world. People left what they knew behind and their entire existence now held fast between yonder edge of town and t’other. Everyone’s business was the town’s business and entire lives where managed by public opinion. There was no place to hide for a marked woman like Hester.
Remarkably, in our efforts to cross the borders of the world and bridge the distances between – we’ve consequently invited that world into our daily lives again. We’ve asked, nay – demanded, that it voice an opinion on every life choice we care to share. The need to reach out to Community is clearly engrained in us. I confess, I marvel at it – and how this Community can be used powerfully both for better…or worse. Is it now: Reach out and Judge Someone? Have we ‘progressed’ any further from Puritanical New England? Is there once again no place to hide from public opinion?
Even more, do we want to? Or do we all have a little bite of Hester in our hearts: daring the world to judge us?