Reading other peoples blogs... people I don't know, but feel like I should. What a strange community they create. In my case, a community of mostly strangers. Makes me feel somewhat isolated. Then I read the blogs of people I do know and I wonder why we rarely admit the things we write about to each other-- in person.
This technology has got me thinking. Along with the hundred pages or so that I just finished reading for Teaching With Technology. I have to admit, I like technology to a certain degree. I like blogging. I like reading other peoples blogs. But I can't help but wonder how it changes how we act face to face. Do we still remember how to communicate honestly together? Or do we need computer screens between us as a safety barrier? Once removed. Once removed. Once removed.
The world is changing fast. But then again, it has always been changing fast.
My problem is that I have lived several years of my life without computers, without running water, without even electricity. Maybe it is just my world that has changed fast.
I spent an entire year of my life living in a shack in the middle of the woods. I had to hike in a half mile. I carried my drinking water in jugs; I bathed in a lake (until it froze over); I cooked my meals on an open fire; the only music I had was produced by yours truly; I read books by the light of an oil lamp; I listened to wolves howl outside my door; I ate wild plums plums for breakfast.
I spent another half year living in the high desert of Arizona in a hogan that we built ourselves. Once again, no modern conveniences. We dug a hole in the ground to keep our food fresh; we had a "fireplace" with a chimney made out of old coffee cans; the door was a scavenged piece of plywood pulled across the entrance at night to keep the critters out and the dog in; I slept in my sleeping bag on a dirt floor; I had to check my bed every night for snakes and scorpions; the stars glittered there like nowhere else.
Before all of this I spent 5 months living out of my truck. Sleeping in mountains, side-roads of city streets, on beaches of the Pacific. Every night was a new home, the only conveniences found in gas-station restrooms. But I found a lot of beauty in those 5 months. It was after that that I took up residency in the old shack.
A few years later I hopped freight trains to Alaska, then spent 9 months in India. No running water, no electricity.
While building my house I lived in a camper. I had electricity that time, but my water was clean, fresh rain water collected in buckets from the awning. It was then that I took my first writing class. I wrote on an old 1920's Smith and Corona typewriter. Clackity-clack. I took bucket showers outside, drank tea, and almost froze to death.
And now look at my life. Computers, computers, computers. Lights turned on with a switch, a toilet that flushes, a bathtub with hot water, phone ringing, refrigerator humming, stereo playing, furnace ticking, Christmas lights plugged in, guitar collecting dust, microwave preparing dinner, electric coffeepot gurgling.
And people wonder why I have such a hard time figuring out computers. My head is just not in it. True, I enjoy them. But it is not how I am naturally wired. I still haven't figured out how to put a side-bar link on this damn site! Let alone figure out how to post pictures.
Yes, I feel isolated from the technological community of today. And when I feel lonely or bored I enjoy reading other peoples blogs. But the thing is that once upon a time... I never used to feel lonely or bored. I was too busy building a fire to boil water on.
Back then I cooked dinner--delibrately. I drank tea-- delibrately. I washed dishes and clothes-- delibrately. I bathed-- delibrately. I wrote-- delibrately. I conversed with friends around the dinner table-- delibrately. I was a part of every step of my day. A part of every need. My life was forced to be slower. I wasn't nervous or jumpy around others. I wrote long letters to stay in touch with far-away friends. Friends, many of them, that I no longer know their where-abouts.
So what has changed? And how much does it have to do with this thing I type on and stare at? No wonder my eyes sometimes hurt. Too much time looking at this screen, and not enough time looking up at stars. Maybe I'm overreaciting, maybe I'm generalizing too much, but sometimes it scares me how removed we become from ourselves, our lives, our environment. It's not just technology... it's society. So where's the division? I don't know. But I am reluctant to give up life as I once knew it. I miss knowing about my friends... the old-fashioned way.
Technology connects us. But it also removes us. Will we ever find a happy medium?