TranslationI watched Lost in Translation again last night. It got me thinking about “goodbyes.”

In the movie, a young woman and an older man develop an unlikely friendship/romance in an unlikely place — a hotel in Tokyo. The story culminates, when the characters confront the question, “For us, what is the appropriate way to say goodbye?”

They confront the question because, in 2003, when people meet each other in unlikely places, they are forced to say goodbye in very real and final terms.

It occurred to me: thanks to the highly connected world in which we now live, we don’t ever really need to say goodbye in the way that people — not that long ago — had to do.

Today, the characters probably would have simply added each other on Facebook and left much of their relationship unresolved.

I’m not sure if this is for better or for worse.

On the one hand, I like the idea of a life without goodbyes, a life where all friendships can be rekindled effortlessly. All those possibilities are wonderful.

On the other hand, if we faced more definitive goodbyes, perhaps, we’d take our comings and goings more seriously and learn from them more often — like the characters in this movie.

What do you think? Are we better or worse off now that goodbyes are a thing of the past?

4 thoughts on “Lost in Translation: That’s The Way to Say Goodbye.

  1. For friends it’s wonderful. I made some new friends in Maui in January, and thanks to Facebook I met up with them in Germany in May. Again thanks to Facebook I don’t doubt that we will meet up again sometime soon, somewhere on this beautiful planet. For lovers it is a completely different matter. Things were much better before with the cut and dry goodbyes. More romantic. More heartbreaking. Now, instead of burning out, they can simply fade away.

    1. That’s a very useful distinction. The value of the cut and dry goodbye may be very different for friends and for lovers.

  2. When I move it is often because I need a change, and I have always maintained contact with a few of the people I fell in love with from any place. We would write letters. That I liked. Every three months, or six months I would get an update. With technology I worry that my friends think that I don’t love them if I don’t email weekly. I would also be able to let go of the people from my past…ex boyfriends, or ex lovers, or ex friends who now I can’t get closure from. There are a few exes that I am glad I have reconnected with…and it is nice to see how we have grown and moved on. I am torn. There are so many people that I wish I could have packed in my suitcase. There are others I wish I could keep in touch with, but are not good at distance. Sometimes being semi-connected makes me feel lonely…and very far away. I am grateful, though, that I did not really get to know you that well in person, and that I am able to get to know you now, through your blog and writings. That is an Internet win, for sure.

    1. Hmm, you make an interesting point. Now that communication is so easy, is it possible someone might think another person is not interested in continuing a friendship simply because they aren’t using these convenient tools? I would never draw that inference but I can see how some might.

      Yes, society’s new connectedness is great for making new friends. It’s pretty effortless and risk-free. Plus, I’m a way more affable person in print. 🙂

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