A teenage boy sits in the middle of the wilderness. A shiny clean Ford pick-up and a man (presumably the father?) are in the backdrop. A computer is perched on the teen’s lap and he is skyping his mom.
She gushes “You made it!” to her smiling son.
The punch line to this Ford commercial is ‘Welcome to the New Independence!”
If that is what independence now looks like, I firmly believe someone forgot to cut the umbilical cord.
I did something last week I’ve not done is a long time. On Sunday I slept in. And I didn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone. I did some writing, cleaned my house, washed some clothes then curled up and watched a bit of television.
I can’t remember the last time I decided to just cocoon myself within the walls of my home. Perhaps what was stranger yet is that I found this rather remarkable in some strange sense.
Just how plugged in have we become?
And so I pondered this commercial and so many more that cater to a populace that seems to thrive on the next technological ‘wonder’ with a fervor or perhaps a fever?
Send a text or an email to a friend, family member or loved one and if the response isn’t reasonably quick, worry sets in. Something is wrong! The phone call is made and voicemail comes on. A sense of panic washes over you.
Then you stop to think if you’ve perhaps offended in some way?
You feel a little foolish when it is discovered that they were in the shower or in a meeting….or, I don’t know, living?
And they were doing so without you. Strange.
I stopped to get my coffee fix at Starbuck’s this morning as I always do on my way to work. A beautiful day was dawning. The rising sun was kissing the clouds causing them to blush a deep pink. The sky was a sleepy blue and a mist hugged the trees.
I slipped back into the car and began my trek to the office as Willy and the gang discussed on the radio that distracted drivers (i.e. those using their phones to text and talk) were now responsible for more vehicle accidents causing serious injury and death than drunk drivers.
This caught my attention and began to really observe those on the road with me this morning. It didn’t take long before I noted driver’s with their heads looking down toward their lap or looking downward at the passenger seat even though no one was in the car with them.
Some openly held the phone in front them as they spoke into it.
Hey I’m no saint. I’ve used my phone a time or two while driving, though rarely. I’ve never tried to text. Still, this really raised a certain awareness for me. I am now committed to never using the phone while driving.
I love to drive. I love to crank up the radio and sing to a favorite song. I always enjoy the changing vista that surrounds me and often I am stimulated in the creative sense. Man, there is nothing worse then having a line or two for a story that you’ve been working on suddenly rise to the surface and you just happen to be doing 100 KM on the highway!
But here we are now evermore enslaved by these technological tools that have invaded our lives. I am no longer working in the downtown core, however, when I was it was increasingly apparent this absorption with the iPhone, Smart phone, Android…whatever it is we are calling this thing.
I’ve posted about this. Of how I’ve had people walk into me and barely glance up. Heads bent with that familiar little screen glowing up at them.
My daughter mentioned at dinner tonight that this was likely becoming an addiction of sorts and it was probable that some form of neurosis would result. Sadly, I do believe she’s right.
She was also correct in stating that collectively we’ve never been lonelier. I love conversing and sharing ideas. I confessed, and rightly so, that often I have very strong opinions and its a well known fact that I’ve had my foot in my mouth more times than I can remember. That is who I am. I do learn from conversations and debates though. A point of view will be expressed giving me pause and open up an entire new path of thought for me.
New Westminster in its infancy
Still, even when the tongue is running with blinders firmly in place…it is still just my expression of thought. There is no malice or ill intent. Just me thinking I know everything.
And I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I’m silly, garish, brash and at times amusing, even humorous. I’m also intelligent, thoughtful, intense and care very deeply about this world I inhabit.
The idea of conveying all your thoughts, of who you are through, texts and tweets, well, my daughter pointed out that all of this could be edited, until the sender was satisfied it represented who they thought they were.
But was it accurate?
In a conversation you can say things in the heat of the moment. Emotions can run high at times. At the end of it however, Are you giving an impression of who you really are perhaps?
And as I write this, there is some conflict, because writing is such strong expression for me.
There is a difference though. I’ve a very deep love of these things we call words.
And while I have a Twitter account, I’ve found having only 140 characters impossible to work with. I’m still far too long winded. But again, I digress.
What is happening to us?
In 1997 I purchased my first computer. I can recall being on a ‘chat room’ talking with people who were in Australia. This fascinated me. And what do you suppose I asked them?
Oh, it was hopelessly mundane. “What’s the weather doing?” “Do your toilets really flush counter clock wise?”
Why I needed verification of this type I cannot say. I was a different woman back in 1997. I was emerging rather awkwardly into this life. And while I’ve made leaps and bounds in the social department, I can still be totally inappropriate in what is uttered from these lips of mine.
Still I am searching for the human experience. I want to drown in it. Want to find its honesty, its wealth, its truth…my truth.
I want to find a certain peace.
I don’t know.
Somehow skyping someone from a desert or a forest or from wherever to let them know they are where they are holds little appeal.
The new independence. From what?
Definitively I am very independent. I’ve had to be. The life plan dished out dictated as such. And what is independence?
It is in my mind it is someone who is ‘stand alone and self-sufficient’. They don’t need anyone.
There are times when I wish I could ask for help, when I could admit I’m only human, when I could express comfortably my vulnerabilities.
That requires a great deal of trust and I’m still working feverishly on letting myself do this naturally.
I hope Carol reads this post.
She was a pen pal of mine some 40 plus years ago. It used to take some three weeks to a month to mail a letter over seas. Carol lived in England and I, of course, in Vancouver, BC Canada.
We wrote for a few years. Pen pals were the thing back in the day.
And while I was writing Carol, my life was falling apart…rapidly. I don’t know what I told her. I don’t know if she knew. But close to 40 years later I received a message on Facebook.
At the time I wasn’t very good at checking messages. Carol had sent me a message asking me if I was the person she’d written in her youth.
It blew me away. This was my pen pal after all these years. And I hope to meet her one of these days.
We shared an energy, a time, a confidence. Both young girls with a life ahead of us. And we made choices.
Yet I must thank technology for allowing me to connect to her again.
No, I’ll not slam this ‘new independence’ of ours. Perhaps we should use it with caution and appreciation though.
The frailty of youth is that they think they know how to resolve the sins of the past.
In time they’ll come to know it’s just human behavior.
A bronzed moosehead gazes out above a fake fireplace tonight down at Begbie’s. A barrel of peanuts sits at the door for those barbarians who will swill the shells upon the floor after consumption.
The Eagles serenade me over the sound system as I wrap this up. I’ve watched an array of personalities come and go in the last two hours.
The girls that work here know me. I pop down from time to time on a consistent basis to write. It’s what I do.
And as this night closes all I can think is just how grateful I am to be here. How much I love all of those that share my life, how much I love the energy beings that encourage and drive me each day.
Blessings and peace to you all. And always offer a smile and greeting. It’s just good form.