Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Death of Intimacy in the Age of Familiarity

The Missus - being a 21st Century woman - has a Facebook page.  She spends scant little time on it.  It is not inaccurate to say that most of the time she spends on it is spent checking out posts and/or photos that either Suz/Ryan put on-line from the great state of Texas or those that Rob/Jess add from the Front Range of Colorado (Note to all four of you:  she is a sucker for pictures of animals so keep those photos of Tillie and whatever the fish are named coming).  What she spends no time at all doing is using FB as her way of keeping tabs on the world at large and as the world at large's way of keeping tabs on her.  And not only does she spend no time using it in that manner, it does make her a bit insane that others do.  On Sunday morning that boiled over a bit.  She actually went on FB for the sole purpose of expressing how she felt:

I may lose some facebook friends over this but ……I enjoy facebook to “keep tabs” on my kids who both live 1000s of miles away. I post the occasional event or picture or send a message or two to someone I want to communicate with and otherwise can’t reach the old fashioned way, the phone. I like reading about other's special events or seeing pictures of those I don’t get to see otherwise. What I don’t understand is the “location” posts. Do we really want people to know exactly where we are and what we’re doing every minute? I guess so since locations are being posted. Sorry if I offended anyone. Just my opinion.

For those who have read thus far, who have recognized yourself in the opening stanza and who are now (at least half) hoping that this one shall serve as the opening argument in favor of why the Missus is simply wrong, perhaps you might want to spend your time engaging in a pursuit that leaves you with a warm fuzzy.  I assure you that this is not it. 

Shortly after I read what she had written on Sunday morning I saw two separate but not wholly unrelated commercials on TV.  The first was for Oliver Stone's new movie "Savages", which is being released next month.  The second was for Charlie Sheen's new TV series "Anger Management", which debuts on FX this week.  The juxtaposition of the two made me think (OK I had a flashback) of Sheen's starring turn in Stone's Vietnam opus "Platoon", for which the tag line was "The first real Casualty of War is Innocence.

Perhaps the first real casualty of the total access, 24/7 Information Age 21st Century is the concept of "too much information".  RIP - TMI might be the headstone of this era.  In this golden age of connectivity we are fueled by the desire to share ourselves and our lives with one another.  Some of us might even be consumed by it.  You know who you are if you are indeed such a person.

And if you are such a person then you need to admit that at least one of the reasons that you share all that you share about your day-to-day is the hope of hearing something that is the acoustical equivalent of applause across the virtual universe.  If that is what you choose to do, then so be it.  I would submit that you have however forfeited your right to challenge anyone's right to utter a noise that sounds conspicuously like one hand clapping in response to all you do.  Once you put it out there, it is out there for all to see and for all to comment upon.  Here in the Age of Instant Feedback the pool is open all the time.  But there is no lifeguard in the chair.  And in this particular body of water, it is always "Open Swim".   So leave your swimmies at home but pack your snorkel.  You just might be under for a while and find it a bit tricky to breathe.

I have no idea whether Margaret's coterie of virtual contacts has shrunk since she spoke her Declaration of Annoyance.  I suspect that far more of her contacts than she realized - and perhaps more than would care to admit - read her words not with anger but with regret over having not penned them.   And I am sure that there are those of you out there who read her words and felt your face flush.  Take solace in the fact - as any of you out there who actually know my better 3/4 and me (as opposed to those of you who have but a virtual acquaintance with either or both of us) - that unlike me Margaret actually gives some consideration to the way in which others shall respond to and react to what she writes.  Me?  Not so much.  Well that is not true....

....Me?  Not at all. 


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