PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS ON COMMUNICATION
THE QUANTITY VERSUS QUALITY THING
Between computer disasters, moving roughly ever two years for the last decade and a half (I’d be more stable in the Army), and having to change from my favorite database (askSam) because it was no longer being developed—a sad story—I’m somewhat surprised I’m still in touch with anybody.
To make it worse, my initial search to find a suitable software package to replace askSam went badly wrong. After much research (evaluating software is a task best allocated to Sisyphus), I bought the wrong package and invested considerable time in it before realizing that though it was excellent for a modest number of records—it wasn’t adequately scalable. And I’m a data pack-rat. Whatever about contact details, I keep electronic files on dozens (I really mean rather more than that) of different subjects from economics to MANS. I’d have done well in the STASI (Google it).
What is MANS? It is my acronym for Military and National Security.
Whether the two are really related is an entirely separate debate.
Such are the joys of being a thriller writer in this high tech age. When I set out on this path, I didn’t realize that I should have taken Computer Science instead of English Literature (I also read Economics and History) and trained in Big Data. I don’t keep Big Data—whose scale boggles the imagination—and which should be a cause of serious social concern—but it is BIG as far as I am concerned.
Still, despite everything, I still seem to have encountered a truly astonishing number of people in my 70 years—somewhat unexpected given the long periods of relative isolation which go with book-writing—and I am finally trying to consolidate my numerous lists (all in different formats), old address books, and jottings into a software package which looks as if it might cope. It is called INSIGHTLY—and it’s Australian.
Who said we don’t live in a globalized world? And, as it happens, I have a pretty sister who lives in Australia—though there is no connection between the software and her (that I know of).
Some of the computerized lists have been imported by Insightly without fuss, but where my manual address books—and other sources of contact details—are concerned, it seems likely I’ll still be transferring them until I run into St. Peter.
I hate losing touch with friends—and, mostly, keep somewhat in touch, but I guess my moving to the Pacific North West—roughly 6,000 miles away from my European friends—hasn’t exactly helped matters.
Out of sight, out of mind isn’t entirely true—merely mostly. That said, I think about my friends a great deal more than you might expect. Apart from anything else, working in distraction-free solitude (more or less) gives me the time to think—whereas the daily rigors of normal human intercourse would not. Now, there is a paradox for you!
Despite the plethora of communication tools that we have at our disposal these days, I really have to wonder whether our overall communication has improved where it matters. Of course, we can now communicate globally by way of phone, e-mail, instant messaging, and social media in general at low—indeed miniscule—cost (though our gadgets cost something, as does an ISP) but whether volume substitutes for quality is a good question.
Personally, I don’t think it does. But, then I am deeply attached to the long, revealing letter—and to long phone calls where people actually talk. Both involve a level of candor, intimacy, and commitment which a thousand texts will never attain. But, as best I can judge, though we humans aspire to attain such closeness with at least one soulmate, we shy away from the price. That price isn’t just emotional—in that writing is too revealing (which it is) but also includes the fact that writing is difficult, draining, and demanding—and, all too many of us, not only cannot write—but are too damn lazy to try.
When interpreting life, the significance of laziness should never be under-estimated.
But, as ever, the greatest barrier to good communication is human nature—and that, whatever about appearances, is about as flaky, insecure, erratic and predictably unpredictable as can be.
Just as well we have sex to motivate, distract and confuse us—and where that fails, there is always war. Or am I talking about the same thing?
Well, a rolling writer may gather no moss—but adventures do seem to come my way.
And I truly love adventures.
VOR words 659. Ho and hum. I seem to be somewhat adrift of my goal of writing mostly short-format blogs of about 300 words each. Somehow, even when I start off with a blog of the target length, my fingers seem to betray me—and write on. It’s that damned subconscious of mine. Do you know that one’s subconscious has no morals—no sense of right and wrong?