Monday, August 9, 2010

CDB, Phone Home

I've been thinking lately a lot about connectedness. Being and staying connected to those we love, used to love, hated to love, or love to hate. It used to be a simple phone call, or a Christmas card (or letter) received out the blue. Right? Like from the next door neighbor 10 years ago that you once shared deep secrets with over the kitchen counter, that later moved away and was never heard from again. Until the random phone call.

Nowadays, it’s much more than a simple phone call. I guess it could still be as simple as a phone call, but tell my Mom how to text, and she’ll forget what you’ve told her the next day. (This is nothing on my Mom; my next door neighbor would also forget, and she’s young.)
When you have very little, no, zero alone time to think…. and analyze… And allow things to sink down to the bottom of the pot and simmer there for a while, life seems to take off much more quickly.

Tonight I had a chance to sit on a runway for three hours. There’s so much information in that sentence, if you look. It means I traveled (well, not necessarily!) “Runway” implies flying.. flying implies far away from my regular dwelling place. “Sit” indicates I had nothing to do but think.. read.. look out the window at the various and sundry groups of hundreds of people, leaving for various and sundry destinations. And—you guessed it. “Three hours” is a very long time.

Back up an hour.. I get dropped off at a major airport in Washington DC. Race to my gate, which is also inhabited by 300 of my closest strangers, since this the gate for Very Tiny Planes to Very Tiny Places. People are waiting. Everywhere. They’re waiting in lines, as long as Disney World’s coolest new ride. They’re waiting in crowded seating areas. They’re standing and waiting, sitting, slouching, leaning up against walls, other people, sleeping against the hallway. You get the picture. And I’m looking around, just watching the people. I’m that girl, just watching. (I even pulled out my little blog notebook and made some notes, if you want to know the truth.)

Almost without exception, everyone is on their phone.. “i” or otherwise. Blackberries, Droids, old-school PDAs and regular old texting phones are out in force.. flights are cancelled, phones are out. I’m watching the people in line, strangers starting destinations or connecting here—but Lord help us, not ending here, frantically try to beat each other to reach an Airline Representative on the phone before getting to the counter. Several waitees are in front of me, sitting on the floor, alternatively on the phone.

There’s the obligatory conference call. There’s the guy on his iPhone, clearly keeping up with a conference call whilst checking flight status, and OH YES! Also reading a book. This guy fascinates me no end. At one point he gets up to pace around (perhaps he needs to focus by pacing) and leaves his backpack and his open book, where he was sitting. People do strange things when their flights get cancelled.

So we are continually connected to each other—instantly, simultaneously. Waiting in line, all talking to the same 800-number, but not each other. Texting across the country to our friends who might be picking us up, but not to the writer cautiously watching you from behind. Are we more connected? Perhaps. Do we feel more closeness, among ourselves? With Social Media keeping us updated on each others’ lives more than we ever dreamed (did I really imagine I’d know exactly when Sally from 5th grade Science would give birth to twins?), what’s the next step for us? Will we all eventually start living the same life, unaware of it until we bump into the Older version of ourselves, the Younger version of ourselves, or the Black or Brown or Asian versions?

Ok, so that is far fetched. But it’s interesting to think about, right?




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