Hello again from Home!
I’m playing a bit of hooky this morning. Shh, don’t tell the boss! Oh wait…never mind. Yesterday’s writing session was intense…and long. I finally pulled myself away from the laptop at 10pm, mind still whirling. I really should get back to my final (hopefully) set of revisions for Book One but my cranium refuses to settle. Until it does, let me blabber at you about something that has been on my mind quite a bit recently:
Thirteen years ago I finally bought a computer for my home and went ‘online’. What an exciting day! At last, a tool I could use to communicate with people around the globe, to share knowledge and exchange ideas. My life would be richer, more expansive and easier.
Mind you, those weren’t my exact thoughts in that moment. It was more along the lines of this scene…
Friend: Type in ‘sex’!
Me: (Giddy laughter)
*very long pause with dung-de-le-lung-beep-bloop-chhhhhh noise coming from the modem*
Me: (Giddy laughter)
Fast-forward to 2011 and me with my laptop all but surgically connected to my body. (Hm, not a bad idea). These days, the Internet is, in fact, a tool I use for knowledge and enrichment.
And the occasional funny cat video, yes.
Most of all, however, to me the Internet represents communication. Hop onto Skype, open the webcam, and within moments Prez and I are chatting with the Roneys on Sunday morning, as if we were all in the same room – hair askew, mugs of coffee and tea clutched in our hands, rumpled pajamas, Pat tormenting the cats.
Cruise on over to Facebook and I can catch up with my nephews, read what they’ve been up to, see what color youngest nef’s hair is this week, and try to decipher the secret world of text-speak that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone over the age of 35.
In Google Docs, Josh and me can spend hours writing together. Live. Our words appearing on a shared screen, with thousands of miles between us, while, simultaneously, we add production notes in a chat box. Best of all, he can also use his phone to send me photos of his cats when they are doing something particularly adorable. (Hi Bandit! Hi Paddy!)
When the Ripsters leave the country, (which happens about every other week), I can transmit vital banking and business information directly to the Beckster’s iPhone. I can also bitch about how they time their getaways in such a manner that the biggest snowfalls of the year occur the moment their plane takes off, leaving Prez and I to shovel and plow mountains of the icky white stuff at the chalet. And, upon receiving this news, Beckster can then use her phone to send instant, photographic proof of their profound remorse, as they lounge on a sunny beach drinking fruity cocktails.
More seriously, when the cyclone hit Aitutaki last year, I didn’t have to rely on the smattering of tiny news stories to find out if the people I cared about were alive or dead. Ms Moana, on the neighbouring island, sent a full report, via email, and Youtube had videos so that I could see the extent of the destruction for myself.
We are connected. For better or worse.
But what about the ‘worse’ part? This is what I ponder. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am forever thankful that – aside from highschool annuals and the fading memories of those who were present – there is no permanent, public record of my teen years. It’s not that I was an idiot back then, it’s just that I was an idiot back then. Come on, who wasn’t?
Sorry, you were, even if you don’t want to admit it.
The generations behind us have a vastly different notion of privacy than us “old folks” do. Their teen angst and first awkward steps into adulthood are splattered all over the social network, where it becomes public property.
What does this mean?
For starters, I think it means that ‘living’ will become, to some degree, a performance. Consider how you behave when you know a crowd of people are watching you, compared to how you behave when you are alone.
Prez and me recently watched “We Live in Public”, a documentary about Josh Harris, one of the original dot com kids, who was part visionary, part genius, and part social misfit. In the late 90’s, Harris conducted an art project/experiment wherein a hundred people agreed to live in an underground bunker for a month, their every move (and I do mean ‘every’) captured via webcams. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that what happened down there was both fascinating and disturbing, a microcosm and a prophesy.
Even with these humble Chronicles, I have seen what happens when you pull up your guts and put them on public display. Sometimes the results are heartwarming and leave you feeling deeply connected with the outside world. Other times, you realize that reality can be ugly and honesty can hurt. A lot.
For my part, I’ll try to take the ‘better’ part of this incredible technology and thank my lucky stars that no one will ever know that I had a massive crush on Steve C when I was in the eighth grade and once pressed myself against his empty locker muttering, “Oh Steve, I love you Steve!” when no one else was around.
Because that would sure be embarrassing.
Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy and (privately) lovin’ life!