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February 27, 2010 - 11:57am
posted by Joseph Langen in conversation, understanding, talking.

Sliding Otter News

 

February 27, 2010

 

Volume 2, Issue 5


Everybody's Talking At Me

 


Everybody’s talking at me.
I don’t hear a word they’re saying.

~Sandi Patti~


I don’t notice it so much at home, but recently I traveled to the Caribbean. Quite frequently I saw people plugged into various electronic devices while ignoring or not even noticing people sitting right next to them. Were they looking for information anonymously? Keeping in touch with others by text messages? Making sure they don’t miss anything? Just passing the time? Who knows?

In a recent AARP Magazine article, David Dudly, the editor of Urbanite magazine, decried “a nation of hyper-connected hermits, thumbs furiously working our BlackBerrys, each of us a master of an ever-smaller personal universe.” He goes on to observe that our communication with each other is more focused on accomplishing something than it is on enhancing our relationships with each other.

Dudly also cites Jacqueline Olds’ observation that the central paradox in life today is “simultaneous connection and isolation.” We can be in touch with others no matter where we are in the world but our electronic notes leave out our emotions, gestures and tone of voice. We can reach each other any time we want but in the process become farther away from each other’s “real self”.

Once we talked with each other just for the joy of doing so. Children sat with their grandparents on the front porch learning about the old days. Men waiting in barber shops shared their opinions about the weather, politics or local gossip while women in beauty salons did the same. Friends gathered at each others’ houses for dinner or parties on a regular basis.

I’m not suggesting that we have lost the ability to communicate. Perhaps we just don’t exercise our skills in this area as often as we once did. On my trip, I had quite a few pleasant conversations with people I had never met and will likely never see again. Looking back on these conversations, I found them more superficial than I would have liked. I disappointed myself by not sharing more of me than I did. Not that I had to stay on the surface but it seems the thing to do in this day and age. Pleasant recollections of my conversations remain but I don’t feel like I shared anything of substance with those I met.

I fear that this trend locks us in our own worlds and keeps us from knowing about the lives of those we encounter just once or on a regular basis. I wonder about our relationships. Marriage, parenting, friendship and society as a whole become tainted.  They strain with the increasingly clipped and limited snippets of information we share with others, leaving our lives increasingly alone and lonely.

 

Life Lab Lessons

 

  • What do you share with others and how do you do it?

  • How many people know the real you?

  • What would your relationships be like if you made them a priority?

  • Put aside your devices for a few hours and try talking directly to others instead.

  • Share something personal with someone else and try learning something personal in return. 

 

February 1, 2009 - 4:13pm
posted by Lori Ann Santini in conversation, internet, Friends, Reunions, Facebook.

     A toast to friendship and find something old in something new.

     Earlier this week I went out on a limb. I had heard about My Space and Facebook but I didn't know much else. I decided that while the the snow was blowing and the kids were down for a nap I would wander through one of these sites. I chose Facebook just because it was the first one alphabetically.

      I found that registering was easy however I realized that I had already revealed more info then I would ordinarily prefer. No woman wants everyone to know her age and birthdate. I had put it out in cyber world that I was OLD.  This however was easily corrected.  I had dodged a bullet.

     Next came the question of how  and where do I go. How do I communicate with others? Can I really find anyone that I know? Amazingly enough it's easy. I put that I graduated from York Central and SUNY Fredonia.  To my amazement I found friends that I had long given up hope of ever hearing from again. With a few key strokes and an invitation, they were back in my life.

     Catching up after over 2 decades was easier then I thought.  We shared similar stories. There were moves, divorces, kids, and more kids, illnesses and loses. Some stories were suprising while others seemed to fit  just fine.

     The memories started to flood back of moments shared. How in my senior year a tight group of us did everything together. Instead of  individual crazy pictures for the yearbook, we chose to take ours together. We were in silly outfits because of spirit week. We hung upside down on the jungle gym. I remember almost passing out from having to hang there for minutes at a time. It is immortalized in the yearbook.

     As we share the stories of our lives, it is almost as if we have never been apart. Some people went on to do exactly what they had said they would. Others had wandered down different paths. Economics and hardship had also played a roll.

     I listened to one friend that said he left his chosen career on the day that an accident had almost killed him. He was one of the lucky ones that survived a roof collapse in a print shop. It killed three of his co-workers. He never went back.

     People asked how I had switched from Political Science to becoming a Paramedic. I told them my story. How on a dark night  just before Halloween, I was in a car accident. That moment was life altering for me. If it were not for the First Aid training a friend of mine had just finished I wouldn't  be here. He saved my life. When I asked him one day how I could ever repay him, he said "Lori Ann - Just take a First Aid class. Some day someone will need it."   I hope that I could make him proud.

     I have lost classmates too. In fact, we lost one the day I joined facebook. We as a "family" found out together. We were there to comfort each other, to send condolences to those Chris had loved.

     These past friends of mine were near and far. Some  were as close as the next town over. We wondered how our paths had never crossed. Then I found  that one of my dearest  friends from college was in Bahgdad. I didn't realize that he had returned to the military. September 11 had had a powerful impact on him. He felt compelled to re-inlist in to the Army. Now here we were, talking by IM (instant messaging) as if we sat across the table from each other. We laughed at things we had done in college. We remembered things that we probably shouldn't have done too. It was decided that some things should just stay in the closet. As they say, "No harm - no Foul."

     Facebook had done something that I could not. It had opened doors that long ago had been closed. So as I said in the first sentence. Something old came out of something new. Old friends are now in my life again. We are writing, talking, having fun and laughing.

     See - trying something new isn't so bad.  Hey, If you are bored try looking up an old friend. You might be pleasantly surprised.  I was.

 

July 10, 2008 - 4:14pm
posted by Joseph Langen in creative writing, conversation, muse.

Ongoing dialogue with my muse about my writing

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Relaxed. I spent last night with friends listening to a Coupe Devilles concert and dancing at Charlotte beach in Rochester.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like fun. I'm glad you're continuing to socialize. What's doing on in your literary world?
JOE: I am continuing to work on my revision of
Marital Property, changing it to a first person account. The more I do the more comfortable I am with this approach.
CALLIOPE: What do you like best about it?
JOE: The characters are coming to life and all have a chance to share their perceptions on observations. I think it makes for a much richer story.
CALLIOPE: I'm surprised you didn't think of it before.
JOE: Sometimes I need a kick in the pants to see reality. I thank my readers for their incisive comments helping me sharpen the text.
CALLIOPE: I agree that it's better not to write in a vacuum or at least let your story see the light of day for a little airing out. What do you have on the agenda for today?
JOE: More of the same- work on Marital Property and work on marketing.
CALLIOPE: Speaking of which, how is The Pastor's Inferno doing?
JOE: Not so well. I think the book scares many people with its theme.
CALLIOPE: What do you think you can do about it.
JOE: I've been wondering that myself. I have been considering promotional material directly addressing these fears. I think it's at least worth a try. Talk with you tomorrow.(Aerial sculptures- Charlotte Beach, Rochester, NY)

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