Monday, February 16, 2009
Alone, Not Alone
What does it mean when you're all alone in your house, just you, your computer and the rain pattering on your roof, but you feel as if you are at a wonderful party -- a party where there are so many people you like that you don't know who to talk to next?
Are we alone or not?
Of course there are all of you, those who read my blog and whose blogs I read. We are all constantly engaged with one another on an intellectual basis, experimenting with rhetoric, and volleying ideas and validation back and forth to one another.
We are enriched by one another's thoughts, ideas, inspiration. Inspired to think and to write. Informed, in some cases, about what is going on in local politics, economics or the community. I deeply value all of that.
And thanks to email, my dad and I have formed a connection that we never had before.
Social Networking Websites
Then on Facebook, I found high school friends and friends from my more carefree youth. Although people have scattered like the winds, some to as far away as England and Japan, we have enjoyed posting old photos and recapturing a bit of the camaraderie of our youth.
This has sparked an array of realizations, for me at least, created some fascinating perspective, and assembled some scattered pieces of myself. Realizations like, for example, it was the guys I paid no attention to in high school who became the awesome husbands and fathers later.
Thanks to MySpace, I found some friends from ancient childhood, adult women I am proud to have reconnected with, fellow mothers of teens (something that is lacking in my "real" life).
Through MySpace also, I have also stayed in touch with all the kids I ever worked with in the elementary school, as they head off into their own teen years and adulthood.
Thanks to the blogosphere and to MySpace, I have found kind intelligent Swedish literary types willing to school me as I fumble around trying to teach myself their language and culture. And thanks to the internet I have a quick if fallible online translator as well as instant access to maps and geographical information.
The Strangest Thing Happened...
Today the strangest thing was going on as I sat on my couch editing stories for the newspaper on my laptop, just me all alone in my house with the only warm body nearby being a big purring black cat. I had all the windows open in Firefox: MySpace, AOL, Facebook, and HSU Webmail.
Suddenly, the cellphone by my side chimes that a text message has arrived, AOL chimes that a new message has arrived, a friend on Facebook sent me an instant message and MSN messenger, which is new to me, signals a conversation starting with my Swedish friend.
Of course, you know what happened. All these things were so compelling that I could barely continue my work. I was laughing out loud (lol-ing) in my own empty living room. I was suffused with pleasure and feeling liked and intellectually stimulated. So was I still alone?
What Does It All Mean?
Once I read a book by Dean Koontz, written before the internet was all the rage, in which the characters' brains grew roots into their computers. Was it called Midnight? Horror only works if it plays upon a deep-seated fear, carrying that fear out to an extreme conclusion (voila, the formula for horror). That's a topic for another post.
Last week in Language Analysis, the students learned about how new words (neologisms) enter the language (coinages, acronyms, initialisms, clipping, compounding, etc.) They were throwing out examples, and I learned something interesting -- interesting in an alarming kind of way: they say L-O-L or even lol.
Instead of actually laughing out loud. Which to me seems so much more satisfying.
So, am I lonely or am I surrounded by friends?
Carpe Diem et Tempus Fugit
Finally, I will add one more thing to this mish-mash of thoughts: something my intelligent reader Kato, of whom I know nothing except that s/he is smart as a whip, wise and articulate, sent me this quote (and I paraphrase):
"If there is a child in your house who is not asleep, turn off the computer right now, get up and go read to/talk to/play with that child."
I keep this quote as my background on my laptop, reminding me to keep it real and that childhood is heartbreakingly fleeting.