Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brave New World

Did you have to read Aldous Huxley in high school? I had to read 'Brave New World'. It was disturbing and not well covered by my not so great Junior year English teacher. Over the last 20 years, I have thought about all those babies in jars being acclimatized to future lives in mines or deserts. The ultimate in social engineering. Combined with '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Huxley and Orwell provided me with a distrust of technology, authority, ignorance and fear of the hell that is created when those things combine.

So here we are, and maybe there really is a brave, new world that we have come to that I don't have to distrust and worry over. Yes, there is much that points to us being in the proverbial hand basket. There is a whole blog of examples I could wrote about that (although I think 'No Impact Man' does that quite well enough.) but from my perspective, there is so much out there that points to the flowering of a society that 'gets it'. There are so many people who are questioning technology, authority and ignorance to make small but profound changes in their lives- growing their own food, choosing neighborhood public schools, listening to music from other countries (never under estimate the power of that, it is where rock and roll came from and the Beatles changed the world), riding bikes to get to work, writing blogs ....

Most importantly, voting for leaders based on the content of their characters, and not the colour of their skins (or shape of their genitalia, for that matter). The world is on the cusp of something, and those who fear it the most are the ones who fight the hardest to stop it (what else could explain the Middle East?). We are racing forward at a sickening pace, I call it accelerated evolution, but sometimes it feels more like the sickness that came from too much spinning as a child (I am going to throw up! Let's do it again!). That feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you the roller coaster is about to start the 5G descent that you would stop if given the chance but really want to do through with. The edges are starting to blur, and the wind is starting to howl in our ears- do we shut our eyes and pray for deliverance or do we throw our hands in the air and hope the camera catches us screaming with joy at the scariest part?

Do we close our fists or hold them open in welcome to this brave, new world?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Not Face to Face(book)

Just the other day, I was finally convinced to join Facebook. My friend tempted me with embarrassing pictures from high school that she refused to show me unless I joined up. Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for this kind of thing. The prospect of seeing just how skinny I was comes in a distant second to wanting to know who in the world would have a picture of me? I don't remember people taking pictures of me, I wasn't the kind of person you took pictures of, whatever that kind of person was. It isn't until quite recently that pictures of me have become common place (and quite frankly, I take most of them myself).

I am utterly confounded by Facebook.

All of those people from the past suddenly at my fingertips. What does one say to all of them? Through this journey of mine I have discovered that I have very little to say. To now have to come up with something to say to so many people is daunting. We haven't seen one another in years and in some cases, decades, but that does not mean there are decades of things to talk about. When you reconnect with people for the first time since the Bush Sr. administration, what exactly do you lead with? There have been careers begun and ended, new careers embarked upon, returns to college, marriages, divorces, children, illnesses... it is a lot to cover with one person, let alone an internet full of them! When does it become too much information and too large an audience? Too interactive?

I started to think about this blog. Is this too much? Most likely not as I suspect I am the only one reading it at this point (feel free to prove me wrong on that!). There is no limit to what I can write here, no editor other than the inner one. I only have to say something once and as many people as deign to stop here can read it without any more energy output from me. One person can ask me a question, and all the others can read my response. I can flush out an idea and explore it fully, without interruption, whereas on Facebook, everything seems to come in fragments of speech and interrupted thoughts interjected at random intervals. It takes a lot of concentration to see past the icons and declarations of 'friendship' and invitations to take quizzes about 'What Kind of Woman Are You' (apparently I am kind and compassionate but allow others to stomp on my feelings, uhm, yeah.).

All of this leads me to wonder what inter- relating to people is coming to mean? People tell me about how easy it is to keep up with people by logging on to social networking websites, but how much are we really experiencing? Who puts up truthful, multidimensional, fully realized information about themselves on a website? We edit what people see by only posting the 'good' picture. Who really talks about the hideous argument they got into with their spouse and instead gloss over it by posting about this weekend's cocktail party? Who has a cup of sugar on the internet? There are no pictures of my heinous stretch marks out there!

I keep walking away from Facebook, puzzled and somewhat lost, even though it is populated by many, many dozens of people I know. My 'conversations' with them, feel hollow and without the vitality of our face to face interactions. More like relationships with word blips than the individuals who wrote them.

Perhaps I am simply outdated. Will I ever feel comfortable in this medium?