I am retired. However, I am extremely busy with my writing and my study of those areas of physics that I did not pay much attention to during my active career. Right now, I am studying general relativity in all its mathematical complexity and finding it enormously challenging but fun. These things keep me very busy and so I do not find time hanging heavy on my hands and thus do not need to find ways to fill the days. I am so busy that I do not have time to read all the books or see the films that I thought I would be able to catch up on when I retired.
Many of my contemporaries have also reached retiring age and have time on their hands and some are reaching out to people they knew from long ago to get back in touch. Reconnecting with others from the distant past is not in itself a bad thing. I enjoy receiving personalized emails from people and respond to them. I do enjoy hearing from them about the events in their lives.
But my heart sinks when they ask for my cell phone number because for many Sri Lankans, ‘keeping in touch’ seems to mean passing on as text messages whatever items of interest that they find on the internet, such as jokes, memes, viral videos, and the like on random topics. It seems like they think, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that the recipients would like to receive these. The ‘fish falling from the sky’ hoax story that I wrote about is one example of the seemingly miraculous things that they find on the internet that they are gullible enough to believe are true and pass on. As far as I am concerned, this is not ‘keeping in touch’.
I am at a loss as to what to do with these unwanted messages and texts that have nothing to do with anything in our lives but are at best curiosities. It seems rude to tell people not to send things like this so I just delete them. But when I get a request from them to evaluate something, I cannot ignore it and feel obliged to respond, even if just to point them to debunking articles at sites like Snopes. All that takes time but even after I have pointed them in that direction several times, it never seeks to strike some people that they should get into the habit of doing this on their own before passing them on.
I am sure that I am not the only person who has to deal with things like this.