ON HAND: Ringo

This originally appeared in The Tactile Mind Weekly in Trudy’s ON HAND column.

My boyfriend’s mother’s sister’s oldest daughter’s oldest five children’s father’s sister is my stepdad’s ex-wife (it helps if you draw a chart). No, my boyfriend and I are not related. Thankfully.

Deaf people often joke about how closely intertwined the deaf community is. I always say that the six degrees of separation theory (that people in this world are connected to each other within six people) is dramatically reduced to three degrees (two for those from deaf families) within the deaf community.

Nowhere is this intertwined nature more evident than at Ringo.com. The latest fad to hit the deaf community, Ringo allows members to list friends (complete with self-written biographies and pictures) on their pages. If these friends are also other people’s friends, the connection is listed, so you can see which of your friends have the same people on their page you have on yours.

Fascinated by Ringo the first few days, I pored through listings of my friends’ friends and their friends. Each time someone asked me to be listed as their “friend,” it was like an affirmation: “Yes, you’re my friend. Share your picture with my friends!”

There are some drawbacks, though. Some people I barely know ask me to be on their list of friends–and out of politeness, I usually say okay. There are also messages from men “looking for a woman,” even though I clearly list that I’m in a relationship. With Ringo.com’s limit at 300 friends per member, I suspect the fad will die out within a few months. Ringo is in reality a popularity contest, and the novelty has long worn off for me.

Nonetheless, I’ve reconnected with people I haven’t seen in decades. It’s also fun to look at everyone’s pictures and get a glimpse into their lives. Really, it’s a brilliant way to demonstrate the almost-sick interconnectedness of the deaf community.

So I’m going to enjoy Ringo while it lasts.

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