Sunday, August 22, 2010

That Which Is, Isn't

While the computer age may have connected us all, it's mostly a cold, distant connection of silence that was formerly a place of conversation and penmanship. I accept it because I must, and because it is the way of things now, but sitting here on a Saturday night pondering the digital divide doesn't make me feel any closer to crossing it. In the old days, I wrote real letters to friends, or I made phone calls and actually talked with them. I made road trips to see people, even though I don't remember really having the money or time to do so. I had pen-pals in Europe and savored the long wait between letters, cherished the moment I saw "por avion" in my mailbox and the subsequent revelation of their words that had come so far to find me. I remember each of those times as if I held a precious treasure. They're all gone now, but not the memories, and not without a feeling of loss.

Despite things back then being slower, real communication was more frequent, its quality better and more meaningful. Now everything has to be planned days, months, or years in advance, with scarcely a word in between. We live on drops of water where once there was an ocean. It seems like the only time left anymore is reserved somewhere beyond death. So what exactly have we connected to, beyond the mirage of being connected? Not each other as flesh and blood people, not as friends or family that go places and do things together, but to words on a screen, mere symbols of the humans we used to be. Driven inexorably deeper into the age of the impersonal, I still see what we left behind. In a world where everything is linked, we've all been torn apart.