I REMEMBER THE DAY
WHEN PEOPLE TALKED ON PHONES
We can now communicate by phone technically—faster, better, and in more ways than ever before in human history, but I’m far from sure we are actually communicating in a human sense more effectively.
Odd that I should be commenting on this. I put great effort into avoiding telephonic interruptions so I can focus on writing, so I should be the last person complaining. Nonetheless, I do find it mildly frustrating that it has become so hard to return a phone-call. Typically, I find a machine—even if I have been talking to that person 30 seconds ago. I guess keeping your answering machine on permanently has become the new normal..
Sometimes I wish the new normal would just go away.
The answer is, of course, to text. I should approve of that since it involves writing, but I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t yet taught myself to text. I have no excuses. My new phone has a QWERTY keyboard and I have two perfectly good fingers. What more does a writer need?
Merely, being a writer brings angst with it.
But, sentimentalist that I am (I’m not sure that is how my friends would describe me) I miss the sound of people’s voices. You can tell so much from a voice—particularly in a relationship. Or you think you can.
I once had a Swiss girlfriend whose big thing was the passionate statement followed by the long meaningful pause. These were exciting, but costly at international rates in those days. Her sighs and silences were not just’ passion. Her English left a great deal to desired, and the less said about my Swiss-German the better.
No—I’m not talking about phone sex here. This was romance—utterly enchanting.
I had three Swiss girlfriends over the years so clearly I am a glutton for punishment. One offered to support me while I wrote—an offer I was too proud to accept.
Advice to aspiring writers: Only an idiot turns down an offer like that.—and she was a lovely woman.
One thing I have noticed is that concurrent with the truly dramatic improvement in our means of communication, trust has declined—and massively at that. No, I don’t mean with the Swiss. I mean in the U.S.
Does that mean the more we encounter our fellow humans, the less we like them?
It’s an interesting hypothesis—but one may have nothing to do with the other. My other theories are that:
- The lessons of the 2008 Great Recession have finally hit home and people finally understand that Financialization is a Bad Thing (We should be so lucky).
- People are so traumatized by the internet and the speed of change that they no longer know where to turn or who or what to trust (I rather fancy this one).
- So many people are on drugs—legal and otherwise—that they have become paranoid (Combine that with the second option and I think we are in business).
Thank God for the complexity of the human condition and our impressive ability to misunderstand each each under just about any and all circumstances.
Writing would be a great deal harder without such attributes. Don’t forget we novelists need conflict to keep our writing interesting.
It does not seem to be in short supply.
VOR words 554.