For a social animal like myself, communicating via electronic devices has in many ways made life more difficult, not easier.
I know there are many other types around, both really lonely people and others who are not exactly lonely, but who say…they enjoy their own company or whatever. I do that too, but maybe need to see other people more often than…some.
For those people, probably actually a lot, the electronic age means many new ways of going out into the world, and many new possibilities of reading, learning new things.
I never felt any of these as problems.
I used the library a lot. If I wanted to write something which needed real research, I could just sit at the Deichmanske library here in Oslo a day or sometimes two, and it was fixed. They had more than enough background material. If I needed a new book that the library hadn’t acquired yet, I bought it in town or even phoned some bookshop in Copenhagen, and they were happy to send it to me and earn a few kroner. For some reason Swedish literature was more difficult to get in this way.
I travelled a little, and one of the things I always did, of course, was going to record- and bookshops.
Today, I find it a little strange to send birthday greetings in all directions on Facebook to people whom I know or knew, but haven’t seen in years, maybe not at all after “meeting” them on Facebook. But I find it hilarious to receive the same type of compliments, and many of the friendships were pretty strong, so there are good reasons for going on. It’s still a little strange.
Maybe it’s also one of my regular reactions against every thing regular. Since I am partly a product of the 60s, which were regular to the last breath, this comes very natural to me.
I was never very good at remembering other people’s birthdays, sorry to say, but always an enthusiast when someone showed up, a lover of spontaneous an unforeseen meetings, if you like.
Maybe I am lonely too, but perhaps not as seriously injured as not doing anything to counter it.
It’s easy to imagine the electronic revolution to be a creator of loneliness since, practically or technically speaking, my friends are not here even when I speak to them.
For me, I feel I am more alone than ever, but for others, people who felt the loneliness more, it may be as I say a way out, and a way of suddenly being visible not only for friends, but for society, in public life, instead of being completely invisible, at home, which for the majority used to be the case. Or at least, many.
I think I’m not all wrong in saying this, and it sounds like progress. You can also say, a hidden problem comes out in the open. Other hidden problems too, coming with this.
So it’s not necessarily easy to cope with.
Things happen to the unwritten rules of social life too.
I don’t want to go back to the volumes of social rules from the times of my childhood, but we should maybe create some habits between answering the phone immediately when it rings, and not replying to calls at all. Especially privately, the last habit has become pretty common where I live. You can understand why, there are many new channels and a lot of everyday stress, but if you want to reach someone it’s not always ok.
Another reason for not answering, I think, is the confusion that easily comes with the whole new electronic world.
Again, I believe that for a big chunk of the population, an overview of society has not been a common prerequisite of life, so the lack of same on the Internet is again not felt by them, or not as strongly as for others. Any light cast on any phenomenon seems for some to be positive, which in a way it is, but for many of us the overview we had established has been crashed by the mass of information, or we feel this is happening.
All the new channels have their drawbacks, for instance, written, electronic conversations, on chat, for instance, carries more weight than oral conversations. When talking to someone in person you can check out the face of the one you talk to, the body language etc. – you can adjust your moves a lot as you go. What you write…you write, it’s more difficult to back out on something that you have written rather than said. Letters, I think, need a more fixed form than spoken words. Although…it depends where you come from, what type of communication you’re used to, what habits and references you have. Written and spoken language probably mix and merge more than they used to.
Letters, I mean texts written to someone on pieces of paper with hand writing, could be anything back then, depending on personal style and occasion, but it was a slow thing compared to today’s rays of lightning hitting us from all places. The types of rays change all the time, so you never know from where or in what shape they will reach your world and change it.
It may lead to messy, unclear thoughts, and the feelings, the emotions, may be equally affected, not least of the speed. You meet someone in the morning, feel like marrying at lunch and part for good at dinner the next day. Serious messages can technically be sent that quickly, so are we ready to digest it all? The young are in a different world than me, partly, and maybe the majority of them fixes the whole thing. That’s a normal generation gap, maybe, but a lot of things are happening, at least.
No doubt about that.
Temporary dementia ought to be a concept in the discussion. Maybe it is, the phenomenon has been here for quite a while. I used to feel that the head, my thoughts, were the most important organ for finding myself in the world. But the overview that I had is for a greater part replaced by intuition and the feeling that I have to take things as they come – to my mind.
I still know things and I still write and talk.
I am less sure than I used to be. Of course, uncertainty is a basic fact of life, but there are still…different grades of it.
I sincerely feel that concepts should be an important part of any field, especially in the way it appears in public. They more often than not…seem to lack in the computer world itself, the explanations that you get from helpdesks may solve your immediate problem, but usually you don’t learn much more than that, I feel.
The ones that have some old concepts intact, and this is a much bigger issue, should take care not to overrun those who don’t have them present, I mean in general, in public discussions about politics or about anything. Everyone ought to listen closely to growls from anyone, to find out what they are actually trying to say, what is the real reason for their discontent. Sometimes people do have a point even if they can’t communicate it properly, and of course sometimes they don’t.
It can be difficult, for the ones with concepts as well, because you don’t want to gve them away for nothing. You shouldn’t.
If they can’t find the right concepts, someone else has to do the job, and remember that many new messages come from unusual parts of society these days, parts that have been hidden for many of us.
The lives of those who speak may be very different from the lives of the ones who are used to speaking in public. Sometimes the angle and the way of thinking are very different.
At the same time, politics and matters of society are not only about the way we think, of course, but also about objective facts in a certain sense. You can’t ignore all the things that happen, even if some of them give different effects for different people, mentally and physically.
If you have been poor, down and out, your whole life or almost your whole life, you may in some respects not see much further than the possibility of filling the stomach. This is understandable, but creates problems of many kinds when many people suddenly have the possibility of getting filled, on a great scale. It is a huge achievement that poverty is diminishing in the world, but it must also be one of the main reasons for many of the environmental problems, including the climate.
This reality easily takes shape of a traditional fight between spenders and savers, both in public budgets and private, usually with opposite political colour. The challenge is of course to feed us all and at the same time take care of nature. I won’t pretend I have the final solution…
We were talking about electronics.
The feeling of always being in contact with…someone, or everyone, should also be an issue to address when you talk about computers and the Internet. I don’t know quite how this has affected our lives, other than that it has. Some popular eastern ideas about human unity and consequences of it come to my mind, for example the idea that what I do sometimes or immediately create consequences for someone else or for everyone, and may get back to you too.
Eastern ideas mixed with western are in many people’s heads, and the Internet has made some of them present in a very concrete, technical way.
It is a way of seeing it, at least.
Philosophically those issues are big enough, and I won’t pretend to have even a modest idea about them or a proper view. I can only see that types of communication which previously happened between two people sitting together, now also moves at light speed geographically anywhere on the globe, sometimes similar to and sometimes different from old mass media.
We have to use it as sensibly as we can. You can for instance go to Facebook, make a beer and darts appointment, go to the pub, drink their beer and talk to your friends, more or less without gadgets as long as you’re there.
Stop the world, I want to get off…for a couple of hours. It is actually possible.
Mm…a bit of editing after publishing this one.