This is the unconventional intimacy of cyberspace, where one receives miniscule adrenal rushes from the typed words of: a girl he once had a crush on, an old friend he hasn’t spoken to in years, a former adversary, a colleague. Long walks beneath crayola skies and sub-comforter midnight phone calls now succumb to technology’s soundbites : a status update, a tweet, a post. The phone is more telex than telephone and Graham Bell is wondering whether he’s gone deaf.
This is where we are then.
Our heads are always screen-bound, the fluorescent glow of a cell phone replacing the sun. Very soon, skin cancer will disappear beneath the rising disease of seclusion. I used to think connection meant holding a hand, but now it’s a hand that holds a connection.
Our cultural velocity is speeding up. We no longer write letters with words, but rather, text words with letters. “Thank you” is now TY. “You’ve floored me” is ROFLMAO. These days, when you give someone the finger,they put a keyboard beneath it.
We look down now, into aworld of pants’ creases and heeled shoes and sidewalk gum – these are the images in our screen’s periphery. We listen for oncoming pedestrians, glancing up momentarily to side-shuffle left or right so we can get back to our binary biosphere. We accidentally step off sidewalks and have sidewalk accidents because we are tethered to a digitized world.
Status is not something I should have to post. It is not as simple as “on” or “off,” “working” or “idle.” Status is a place in the world, a reflection of character and ambition and generosity. Status cannot be portrayed in 140 characters or a turn of phrase. Status has history, accomplishment, loyalty – terms that disappear beneath the fidgeting fingers of a generation of immediacy.
I am forty-four today and already sounding like some old, cynical crocodile who’s preparing for a mothballed closet and socks with sandals and nonsensical blogging. But then, maybe it’s not the age so much as the distance. These screens can bring us nose to nose, but keep us so far away. Most often, that distance is protective, guarding us from familiarity. There are days, however, when one wants to go down the rabbit hole of rapport.
And so, on this day, when grasping you to give you a hug is impossible, when shaking your hand or kissing your cheek is unmanageable, let me just say a sincerethank you for the birthday wishes. They make this world of 1’s and 0’s a bit more palatable.