Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Life in 29 Characters or Less

The Farmer is getting impatient with the kids.

Well, our "kids" are not kids anymore. They are young adults. But still, they are our kids.

What's up? Texting and those technological marvel phones. It seems to be a generational thing because I have never, ever seen anyone of a certain age texting or glancing at their phones every sixty seconds.

Last night I saw a clip on TV, perhaps it was for one of those science shows, that promised someday we would be able to receive information from the internet directly to our brains!

WOW! The miracle of modern science and technology strikes again. The only problem is, it's hardly a miracle and not an exciting prospect at all.

It appears from my vantage point that people are becoming addicted to the idea of instant communication, 24/7. They have the belief that they are connected. But I'm going to propose that in fact, they are disconnected on a deep and fundamental level. Does anyone know a sociologist, psychologist or athropologist who could do a study on this?

Wired to the max and still disconnected? Yes. If you are sitting with a person, in the flesh, and you are constantly diverting your attention to the little grey box in your hand, you are disconnected from the moment, from the here and now. And besides - IT'S RUDE!!!! I believe our parents would grab the device and toss it across the room. For sure it would never in a hundred years be allowed at the dinner table.

So yes, if you are texting and checking your e-mail while you are supposed to be spending time with someone, it's a disconnect.

I believe the other problem with this proliferation of being "connected" every hour of every day is that it will kill creativity. Many highly creative people had childhoods that had an element of loneliness, certainly a childhood that had large blocks of "alone" time that allowed their imaginations to become highly developed.

On the psychological front, how can you ever figure out who you are if you don't have a waking moment of "me" time to mull it all over? Although I'm a gregarious person who loves to be with people, I require a large of amount of quiet time in between social interactions.

Yesterday Karen Deborah mentioned mental illness and the fact that I made it out the other side and the fact that I talk about it freely. Yes! I made it out the other side but not because I had a device that allowed to me have my friends weigh in on every aspect IN REAL TIME! Getting healty and staying healthy involved lots of work one-on-one with ME. Well, there was a therapist involved to keep me on track but a good therapist basically stays out of it. I talked. I listened and in the listening, in the quiet time when it was just me and my "stuff" I came to some epiphanies, some large, some small. But it simply wouldn't have happened if I was being barraged by information.

Scientist and naturalist Loren Eiseley took this a step further and spent his adult life as a solitary, patiently sitting and observing nature and recording his observations in a spectacular writing style. This kind of creativity happens in a vaccuum of sorts.

Here's one of his observations.


“I leaned against a stump at the edge of a small glade and fell asleep. When I awoke, dimly aware of some commotion and outcry in the clearing, the light was slanting down through the pines in such a way that the glade was lit like some vast cathedral. I could see the dust motes of wood pollen in the long shaft of light, and there on the extended branch sat an enormous raven with a red and squirming nestling in his beak. The sound that awoke me was the outraged cries of the nestling’s parents, who flew helplessly in circles about the clearing.

“The sleek black monster was indifferent to them. He gulped, whetted his beak on the dead branch a moment and sat still. Up to that point the little tragedy had followed the usual pattern. But suddenly, out of all that area of woodland, a soft sound of complaint began to rise. Into the glade fluttered small birds of half a dozen varieties drawn by the anguished outcries of the tiny parents. No one dared to attack the raven. But they cried there in some instinctive common misery. The bereaved and the unbereaved. The glade filled with their soft rustling and their cries. They fluttered as though to point their wings at the murderer. There was a dim intangible ethic he had violated, that they knew. He was a bird of death. And he, the murderer, the black bird at the heart of life, sat on there, glistening in the common light, formidable, unmoving, unperturbed, untouchable.”

“There the black bird sat, formidable, unmoving, unperturbed. The sighing of the little birds died. It was then I saw the judgment. It was the judgment of life against death. I will never see it again so forcefully presented. I will never hear it again in notes so poignantly prolonged. For in the midst of protest, they forgot the violence. There, in that clearing, the crystal note of a song sparrow lifted hesitantly in the hush. And finally, after painful fluttering, another took the song, and then another, the song passing from one bird to another, doubtfully at first, as though some evil things were being slowly forgotten. Till suddenly they took heart and sang from many throats, joyously together as birds are known to sing. They sang because life is sweet and sunlight beautiful. They sang under the brooding shadow of the raven. In simple truth they had forgotten the raven for they were the singers of life, and not of death.”

- Loren Eiseley (New York Vintage Book: 1957) 174-175

Something that beautiful could never be expressed in 29 characters or less.

Jesse White Crow came close with this passage;

"In a minute the coyote is over by the dry creek bed singing it's painful woes to a night that makes all of creation wish they'd mastered fire."

That was 28 words. It's unlikely that he could paint that picture in 29 characters. He spent at least three years alone, walking across America. Creativity flowed like electricty.

I'm sure that my kids would say we are being dinosaurs but all that I ask of young people is that they stop and examine the dynamics of the phenomenon. That will, however, take longer than 35 seconds.

I'm off to disconnect and create something wonderful in my almost-finished sewing room.


StitchinByTheLake said...

My children also often prefer a text conversation over a "real" one. Sometimes I accept that, grasping at time with them in any form. In their busy adult lives time with their mother is on the backburner just as mine was with my own mother. I wish I could adequately convey my regrets at that busyness to them - to be able to have an hour's conversation with my mother again would be a dream come true. blessings, marlene

Vee said...

Son does not do this; daughter does. I know the frustration. Ditto taking calls on the cell phone and I have myself been guilty of that one. Thanks for the head's up.

Such wonderful prose you've shared today, with much to ponder.

Hope that you find delight in that sewing room of yours.

Lisa D. said...

Oh, I agree with you so, so much! It is the reason we live in the country, and I absolutely refuse to have a cell phone (and I'm not that old!). My goal for this summer is to have my children spend as much time outside as possible. I don't want to hear complaints of boredom. I agree that creativity gets crushed when we just give in to the easy, mind numbing distractions.

Mary Rex said...

I am in complete agreement with you about the disconnect provided by the constant texting and cell phoning. I have a cell phone that I use only when I am traveling, and then never while driving.

I love the Loren Eisley essay. Thank you for sharing it with us.

seanymph said...

My grandchild came to visit and in between watching tv and talking to me she would text. It annoyed me. I didnt mind when she went to bed and texted into the was HER time. But on MY time I was annoyed. Just recently when I went to visit her, she did it again and I called her on it. Shes 17, she should understand. But I told her when your doing that and im talking to you, its rude. You are NOT paying attention to me or anyone when doing that.

Im not sure she got it and thats sad. But this is one of the many reasons I dont want a cell phone or any of those gadgets. Guess it makes me old fashioned. I mean I do have a computer and Im on it alot. But I do walk away and have a real life without interruptions from it.

I dont want to be connected to these things and to people 24/7.

Kat said...

I feel the same way about televisions and radio. I hate going to a family birthday party or other gathering where the TV is on full blast. Generally, nobody is even watching it!
If someone drops in to my house, they are the center of my world, not some electronic device.
Of course, I don't own a TV, but I do turn off the radio or computer or whatever.

Karen Deborah said...

You hit this nail dead on. I absolutely agree with you.

techwriter said...

So true! However...I would probably rarely "speak" to my boys (both "grown") if we didn't have text messages and email!

Marfa (Crafting Marfa) said...

I so agree with you! A few days ago a friend of mine asked me when was I going to start "texting". My answer was a flat out: NEVER. Now, I'm not against technology. I have a cell phone. I own a laptop and I have a big, flat screen TV. I even have a blue tooth headset for my phone! BUT, I don't have the headset on my ear 24/7, only when I'm actually speaking. I don't see the need for texting if I can TALK, AND I think that it is extremely rude to be having two conversations going on, one with someone who is actually in front of your face and one one the phone. One day soon I am going to start walking out on people who do "texting" when I'm talking to them.

I also refuse to talk on the phone while driving. I think that they should treat people who "text" or talk on the phone while driving the same way that they deal with DUI. Studies show that people who "text" while driving have more chances of crashing than drunk drivers!

You have hit on a subject that is very touchy for me because I am a firm believer in good manner and personal responsibility.

Marfa (Crafting Marfa) said...

I just of something! The next time that I'm speaking to someone and they start texting I'm going to pull out a book and start reading when they're actually talking to me. Let's see how they like it. Reading is reading, right? They're reading something on their phone and I'll be reading something in a book. Let's see what happens when the shoe is on the other foot.

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lifeinredshoes said...

The whole connect but disconnect thing, I fully agree. I have only recently begun to text and it is in an attempt to stay in touch with my children. You see, they don't talk...they text:{

And the words, the beautiful words, what would this world be without them?

And like you, I count myself truly blessed to have come out on the other side of mental illness. And also like you, being open about it lets others out there know they are not alone:)

Leslie T said...

I couldn't agree with you more. It's so odd that people today need to be constantly "connecting" and yet they're not connecting at all. They're exchanging trivia that is something akin to the flotsam that floats to the top of a pond and the birds feed off of. In my opinion, about 10% of cell phone usage is productive. There are times when a cell phone is great. The rest of the time it should be stowed away and left alone.
It makes me ill to see two-year-old children with their toy cell phones. In training to become little people who are obsessed with spending their time talking about nothing. Constantly.
Modern technology is a double-edged sword, for sure. You hit the nail on the head, Suzanne.

Daisy*Child said...

Just stumbled upon this site and it made me smile, because the post was so true. I am a teenager, and constantly in trouble with my friends because I never check my text messages, I'm never on 'MSN' and I don't have 'Facebook.' Nobody wants to have an actual conversation any more, or write a letter.

What's even sadder is that people my age actually say "lol" instead of laughing.

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