Losing Touch

Being able to lose touch is, when you think about it, a pretty valuable luxury.

Ms Reichelt is correct. Consider the ubiquitous cell phone. I’ve had the same phone number for eight years now. That would be 2 apartments, 2 houses, 5 jobs and 2 kids ago. But, if you knew my phone number in 2000, you still know my phone number. I cannot hide from you. Same goes for my email. I have a few addresses, some of them dating back to last century. And they all forward. I cannot lose you.

I’m on a few social networking sites. I have this funky blog. I don’t cross link them (we can probe my crazy later). I have multiple IM accounts that I access simultaneously blending multiple aspects of my current and past lives. Because of technology, folks that I was once hung with, at least online, are still able to contact me. And vice versa.

From Ms Reichelt’s post:

Q: “How many contacts could you accumulate over the course of a lifetime if you start really young?”

A: Personally, I’m going to keep my kids locked under the stairs so they won’t have to face this challenge. And friends lead to team sports. It’s a vicious cycle, and the ending is always me driving carpool.

Q:”If we get stressed about our moms friending us on FaceBook now, what do our kids have coming?”

A: Kelly O thinks our kids will lead less compartmentalized lives than we do now. So, admitting that “yeah, that my mom” might not be as socially devastating as it was for our generation. Also? My kids think I’m cool. So, of course they’d want to friend me. I’d just have to be on FaceBook first.

Q: “We think Twitter gets distracting now – how will we manage all the noise that such a huge number of contacts will generate? Or will we all just shut up? (I doubt it).”

A: I don’t Twitter. Or tweet. The world can go on without my pearls of wisdom. But this does tie back to the ubiquitious cell phone. Now when people phone one another they expect instant gratification. It seems that people are expected to answer their cell ALL THE TIME. That’s very different than land lines (for people that still have them). Remember when sometimes you’d let it go to the answering machine because you were busy doing something else? Or you just didn’t want to talk? Now, if you let your cell go to VM the caller will invariably ask “where are you? why aren’t you answering your phone?” It’s as if the ownership of a cell phone is the tacit acceptance of noise in your life. You have to declare you’ll be incommunicado if you wish to pick and choose when you’ll answer. Or, be like me and set the answering expectations low.

Q: “How will we manage our identity online as our identity changes? Will this pressure that seems to be about to have an integrated online persona (work, social, family, all in together) continue? If not, how will different personas evolve and how will the be related? Will we be able to re-invent ourselves?”

A: How do you know who you are at 12? 15? 20? 30? Do you get to safely experiment with your identity without having to hear about it for all of eternity when you invariably take a wrong turn? Will my kids have to have a variety of anonymous lives before they’re willing to take one public? What if they do want to change who they are? Can they ever honestly say that yes, they’re a vegetarian if someone else can find a ten year old post about how much they love dead slab o’cow on their plate? Or, will their generation be more tolerant? More tolerant of trying before buying. Of being willing to say this is who I am today – I make no guarentees that I’ll be this person tomorrow?

It’s novel for us now to have real-world friends we first met online. Or to refer to people we’ve never met face-to-face as friends. That won’t be the case for our kids. Friendship won’t be defined by matching Friendship bracelets. They’ll have friends all over the world that they’ll never see in person. Finding a date online won’t be the stuff of television commercials, it’ll be as common as fast food restaurants. It’s a brave new world out there, I hope we don’t give ourselves information overload trying to get there.

Thanks for the link Anne.

3 smart people left their mark:

  1. Kelsey, 6. July 2008, 20:29

    Great post!

  2. Kelly O, 7. July 2008, 19:57

    AWESOME post. I’ve often wondered if women were able to connect with each other in a way that transcends geographical limitations and is less superficial than casual relationships — which I think we have now through blogs and certain social networks [by the way, dude, try Twitter; just try it] — would ’50s housewives still have been so miserable? Would their lives be better, because they would have been able to turn to each other for strength and commiseration, or would there have been no much-needed social upheaval of first-wave feminism?

    Anyway, it’s interesting to think about how our kids will view themselves and the world. I’m glad there is no record of my 12-year-old self, but on the other hand, maybe I would have felt less isolated if I had been able to keep a blog.

  3. Pink Asparagus » Community Identity (Pingback), 6. August 2008, 7:16

    [...] What was the technological breaking point for a community? Was it the telephone? Now you could maintain relationships with people from your geographic past, you didn’t have to befriend your neighbor because you were still friends with your old neighbor. Was it the television? No need to go outside and visit with your neighbors, you could watch your stories and feed some of the socialization feelings there. Was it the computer? The Internet? Video games? The never being able to be incommuncado? [...]