Bring back the space

Hashtags abound, and no longer just in cyberspace.

Even the Phillies AAA affiliate jumped on the tagging bandwagon with their giveaway towels for fans at the ballpark.  Realizing that most of the players who propelled the team into the playoffs were now playing for the major league team, they came up with this rallying cry:  #Trusttheprospects.

With no spaces in-between the letters, that’s a full sentence masquerading as a single word.  Apparently, it’s not even an original creation.

But that’s the thing about hashtags.  Anyone can make one, which is how the phenomenon began in 2007.

The hashtag originated on Twitter as a metadata marker – a tool to group messages together in order to make searching for a particular topic easier.  It has evolved into a way of signaling emotions of every kind and a means of expressing tone or judgment with brevity and punch.  Quickly the funky # has also become a marketing tool, intended to create buzz even beyond social media.

Whether as cause or effect, the trend to eliminate the space goes beyond digital communications.  We seem now to be losing space in many ways. There’s little space between vehicles on a busy road or between appointments on a hectic calendar.  Thanks to ubiquitous online access, the space between work and home is gone, as is that between public and private life, even between the secular and the sacred.

In days past we considered space to be a limit, the “final frontier” as it were.  We strove mightily to overcome this limit, and with the electronic revolution we are succeeding.

Consider the miniaturization of computer technology.  From behemoth machines in industrial complexes, they’ve shrunk to laptops and hand-held tablets.  Today we can implant microchips into everything, even people.  Digital devices no longer take up much space; nor do they need space as they operate in wireless realms and across international networks.

What if, instead, we looked at space as an opportunity, as something “open” to us, maybe even “safe” for us?  Space gives people the opportunity to breath, to reflect, to wonder, to imagine.

A university campus is designed to be such a space.  Beyond the technologically efficient buildings, the “greens” offer an idyllic place for learning.  There we can come to understand the keys to human development that truly liberal arts offer.

Even a “man cave” represents such a space.  It may be cluttered to the point of bewilderment, but it provides a refuge from the busyness of the world.  There we can enjoy a bit of leisure that counteracts the pressures of work and worry.

Churches or chapels also create such a space.  They are configured with this opportunistic sense in mind, to provide space for us to engage something else, something more, something bigger and greater than ourselves.  There we come to encounter the transcendent, the divine; there we experience an inspiration that can transform us in our return to the ways of the world.

Human beings need room to grow and to thrive.  People need the spaces in life to become who they are meant to be.  Words can be shortened, but human flourishing is meant to be expansive.

Grammar aside, it would help to … #bringbackthespace

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