30 September 2010
I find myself in a funny place. I could go anywhere. I could be anything. I could go back to school to specialize in Pleistocene megafauna or to learn how to design websites selling at thousand dollars a pop.
But the part of me that values simplicity knows, deep down, that those choices won't change anything. The dreams that tug at my soul aren't intricate or complicated. At the end of the day, I am happy if I've sung a song, read a poem, written a letter, let myself be transformed by a string of words or the landscape of a melody.
In a world in which you can choose from scores of ways to communicate and interact, I still feel impelled to choose my methods carefully. Perhaps it's because I ride the terminal cusp of a generation that was born listening to Fisher Price LPs, learned its first songs from cassette tapes, amassed a CD collection in high school, and now tosses around mp3s like penny-candy. (The MiniDisc, I should add, deserves an honorable mention between the CDs and mp3s.) We witnessed the blossoming of the internet, the rampant spread of cell phones, and the introduction of a hundred all-in-one camera/phone/computer PDAs that can't stand to remain pocketed for too long.
I believe that what we invest of ourselves in the medium of communication comes across in the message. A phone call, a letter, a song, a tweet. I don't think it obtuse to consider some media more substantial than others. Yesterday, I called a person in a remote town on the north coast of Australia. I also opened a handwritten letter from a friend in Tennessee. It will be a long time before I forget either one.
A couple weeks ago, I finally extracted myself from facebook. There's something to be said for simplicity, for time spent communicating directly, meaningfully, deliberately. I'm not trying to lead a stomping Luddite brigade through the backyard of social media. But I am pulling the plug on a desultory way of communication I found myself nodding to more and more often. And I am making simple decisions now that will affect the way I interact with the world in the future. I want my norm to be different. Give me a letter over an email any day. A song over a tv show. A voice rather than a silent screen. Here's one less soul plugged into that space and one more for the type of world I want to belong to.
Photo from a dry lake bed near Burketown Australia, October 2009