Thursday, October 31, 2013

Too Much Tech?

I was talking to a friend the other day who had just set up a Twitter account. I was asked if I had one...if I tweeted or twittered. (Is Tweet a verb or a noun? He, She, It "tweets." Huh ... Guess it's a verb. Then Twitter must be the noun). 

Anyway, I smiled and said Yes, I have one. I'm "out there." No, I don't use it. If I'm really, really honest ... I have no idea how to use it, what to post, why I need to use it or want to use it or what following someone means in a non-stalker sense. Following someone seems weird ... having someone follow me just freaks me out. My son has a Twitter account. I have one to keep up to date on his ... um, tweets. But I really don't have any desire to, um, tweet anyone else. I don't even know what to tweet. Do you want me to follow you? Really? 

I get texts from my kids' schools ... reminding me about Drama Club meetings, play rehearsals and late start days. Informing me that a new weekly update is available from the principal -- this is riddled with important stuff I need to know that I won't know if I don't get out there and read it. PTA information, Drama Club Booster Meeting minutes and school event party plans are sent to me by email. My bank sends me an email and a text if my account is near to an overdrawn state and to let me know my statement is available. Bills come with email links. My family calendar is on Google.

Yesterday I called Walt Disney World to see if I could schedule a breakfast with Chef Mickey. The registration was automated. I was given options and spoke to an attendant -- a non-living and breathing entity created with key-strokes by some programmer. I didn't get my reservation. None available. The friendly automaton even checked different days in the week. Very thorough. I was given the option of speaking to an attendant only at the very end. I opted out. I was tired.

Am I the only person overwhelmed by technology? OMG ... am I becoming my parents?  I log in my daughter's reading at a Reading Rewards Web Site. I check my son's grades on-line and receive notification on-line when they are ready. My friends text or FB me to make plans. I note all activities on the Google calendar linked to my phone and computer. And I'm exhausted by all the apps I have to own and understand.

I need an app to navigate me to a business and an app to guide me around Walt Disney World's fast pass options. I need an app to check FB and pay my bills. I need an app to calculate the right tip and help my daughter with her math. And as I click and scroll and strain my eyes trying to find just the right information, I become more and more disconnected to the people surrounding me.

I text instead of talk. My son rarely uses his phone to actually speak to another human being. He texts or tweets or instagrams his messages and moves. Emails replace letters, taking us further and further out of context -- out of relationship. Remember when your parents set phone limits 'cause you talked too long on the home phone to a friend after school? Not a problem anymore. The conversations texted are short and succinct. Mundane. They really don't say anything. How do kids "relate" to each other? What will this trend mean?

I watch people on the streets as they walk around. Their heads are down and they always seem to be scrolling thru their smart phones. It is truly a wonder they are not hit by cars or do not collide with others. If they did run into another person, I question if they'd know what to say. Has human contact de-evolved so much that Touch has been replaced by Tweet and Text? When was the last time you called someone to set up lunch or a meeting? Or, did you message someone on FB? Was the entire meeting conducted thru instant-messaging or a conference call?

Not so very long ago, I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. Do any of you remember Hal? We aren't that far away from Hal. The way we communicate is dominated by Hal's descendents. We are quickly becoming completely reliant on tech. And, sadly, out of touch.

I don't want to scroll, tweet, text, FB or email. I want to look into your eyes and speak to  you. Look at a piece of paper and read something NOT on a screen. I want to do less logging in and more writing down with a pencil and paper.  The amount of things I need to do electronically to just keep up with my kids, their activities and my life is completely overwhelming. My heart races and my breath catches as I think of everything I need to log into just to stay on top of THEIR lives -- let alone my own. Then, I gaze at my planner nostalgically ... that thing I used to write stuff in ... and I look at empty file folders that used to serve as a resource for information from schools and doctors and shake my head.

Maybe I am becoming my parents ... "I remember when ..." But, I'm not sure I remember when I last actually spoke to you or saw you ... Why don't you call me or ... crazy thought ... stop by for an actual face to face before I completely forget how to talk.

Logging out ..................

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Curiouser and Curiouser ...

"Who Are You?" the hookah smoking caterpillar asked in Lewis Carroll's mixed up tale about a little girl tumbling thru a rabbit hole into a convoluted yet shimmeringly brilliant land.

And what was Alice's answer? Do you know? Perhaps it's something you might respond. She said, quite guilelessly, "Why I hardly know. I've changed so much since this morning, you see."

Are you like Alice? Are you asking yourself: "Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle." Lewis Carroll would tell you to "Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been or would have appeared to them to be otherwise.” 

Obviously figuring out who we are is more complex than I realized.

As I look around, many seem stymied and unable to answer the Caterpillar's very basic question, struggling to understand their hearts or their dynamic multi-layered personalities and ever-evolving idiosyncrasies. They seek counselors to help find themselves. They purchase Self Help books at dizzying rates. They complete quizzes at the back of magazines ... all in an effort to figure out who they are.

As I drove to work yesterday, I noticed a billboard that read: "It's time to be who you are." It was for a men's suit warehouse, but seriously ... what is that saying? Are people really scampering about being other than themselves? Do we sincerely seek to be less than who we are? Do we ignore our natures because of someone else's definitions? Do we choose to pretend or apply a fa├žade or assume the characteristics of a friend, movie star or another entity entirely?

Do you?

At Taco Bell, the seasoning packets give me advice. Everywhere I turn I'm told Keep Calm and Dance on or Carry On or "whatever on." I'm urged to Seize the Day while reminded by Shakespeare To Thine Own Self Be True. Alexander Pope directs me to Act Well Your Part, for There all Honor Lies. So many messages competing in my head. Is this supposed to help me define myself?

Do you KNOW who you are? How do you define yourself? By your job? Or your relationships? By the way you look in the mirror or the friends you have? By your activities or religious beliefs? By your hobbies or astrological sign? Me, I'm a "Moon Child" (aka Cancer the Crab) which means I'm Passionate and Loving, Intuitive and Imaginative yet Changeable and Moody ... and a bit Overemotional at times. Yeah, that's some of who I am but not all. 

I'm a lot of things. So are you. Do you embrace that? Do you know who you are?

I have always found myself fascinated by Alice. Personally, I prefer her journey into the Looking Glass, but then I've been trying to break through into the land on the other side of the mirror for years. But I digress ... Sorry ... Anyway, I relate to Alice's exploration of nonsense. After all, she's simply bored by a dull moment and curious enough to explore her imagination ... to boldly go where no little girl has gone before. Since she's not sure of her ultimate destination (I mean, Who IS?), she learns that any road will take her there. She only has to step forward into the unknown.

I'm a product of a loving family and good life. I'm also inconsistent at some moments and profoundly consistent at others. I'm adventurous -- an explorer at times. I'm a homebody content with a book or a knitting project and silence at others. My friends can count on me, though at times I do go off the grid. I'm many things to many people. But, I know who I am. I am me ... and that's all I know how to be. Many forces shaped my being. But, I'm content with how I'm turning out ... crazy work in progress that I am. When I look in the mirror, I smile ... except for those bad hair days or days when my make-up is just not right. But, then I shrug, Keeping Calm and Carrying On.

Like Alice, "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." On those days ... I have to admit that I have just a bit more fun. 

I have a lot in common with Alice. I get her. Curious ... restless ... adventurous ... imaginative ... able to slay the Jabberwocky and save Wonderland simply by knowing who she is and believing in herself. Just a girl surrounding by "mad people" trying to get that one cup of Tea!

Yep ... I can relate. Course, I prefer Coffee. But that's me.

Who are you?
                                                                                                                        -- Jenni