Bits & Bites In My Shrinking WorldFriday, August 13, 2010
As 2010 begins to wane (the perennials in the garden are beginning to look tired) I have come to the realization that I have had a blog for five years. Because of it I have had to keep up with the technology and like the characters in William Gibson’s steam punk The Difference Engine I have picked the technology that suits me and rejected that which doesn’t.
For a while I even tried Twitter and rapidly lost interest in its overwhelming banality. I opened a facebook account under my mother’s maiden name and I was (almost) deluged by requests by artsy Barcelona and Madrid men who wanted to be my friends. When my granddaughter Rebecca opened her facebook account (to be monitored by her father) I sent her a few messages. She criticized me that my messages were too long/ When I pointed out to her (in a private message) that she had made a spelling error in a Spanish word she derided me for the criticism telling me that facebook was her escapism andshe did not need any finger wagging. In fact she told me that since I knew her email address I could send such messages to it.
But I countered that facebook (for as long as her current obsession with it lasts) is certainly the most direct method of communication. She is always playing outside when I call so facebook was a sure thing. But my granddaughter did the facebook version of not returning a call. I had sent her a private facebook message inviting her to a performance of Joe Trio at the East Vancouver Cultural Centre for today but I never did receive a reply. Perhaps she was afraid to reject my request. Still the silence was most eloquent.
I have never forgotten the account by a Mexican friend who was making out with an American girl back in the late 60s. It was not going too well. The American girl volunteered, “Try me with some Ahmad Jamal.”
In the same way when people I know ignore my emails or my phone messages I find it odd to receive a friendship request from them in facebook. Is it a sort of, “Try me on facebook?” Will it be different? Will it be more satisfying?
It was a few years ago that a longtime friend of mine shocked me with, “I don’t like phones. I don’t want to talk to you on the phone. After all, I read your blog and I know what you are doing most days.” My friend was at the cutting edge of the communication snafu that is taking our world by storm. Why talk to someone Dick Tracy style with Skype when you can send little messages by Twitter or facebook?
I try to find excuses to call up my friends. “Hi, this is Alex, I just got back from Texas.” “I know Alex, I just read your blog.” And communication stops there.
I long for the old type of phone call, “Hi Alex, it’s not important in the least. I just wanted to know how you have been doing. How is your garden?”
There are extremes. My daughter Hilary calls up my wife at least three times a day and some of the conversations last for at least an hour. “We had Sheppard’s pie today with a tomato salad. The girls then went to play outside. We packed and we are ready to go to California.” My wife just acknowledges at short intervals with, “Uh-huh.”
There was one friend I often had interesting conversations with. His name is Mark Budgen. He is a voracious reader of all the left-wing British media (The Guardian) and of literary on-line versions of The New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly. He would send me: Mark Budgen saw this article in the Guardian and thinks you might find it interesting. They usually were, and I would then call h im up and we would discuss the merits of the story. Every once in a while we would connect at his house and he would serve me a gourmet lunch.
But Mark has gone to live to Oliver, B.C. and communication has ceased. He is busy adapting to a much bigger house and the problems of somehow telecommuting from there on his free-lance writing.
The feeling that my world is shrinking into Twitter bits and bites is beginning to overwhelm me while at the same time I am realizing that this blog is a touch of sanity. Perhaps I should get a life.