Friday, July 27, 2012

Communications


Facebook, 5,6,7? Million users, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and literally countless others, messages flying across each other like little specks of dust in a windstorm; I don’t know if it’s just me, I doubt it, but I was an avid pursuer of the potential of the internet to reach far corners of the earth, make connections, network, do business, make new friends, find old, but I’m getting a bit weary of the HUGE mass of supposedly personal communication and the accompanying loss of real conversation…are you?
1,115 friends...hmmm...maybe just 'Like' my biz page http://facebook.com/Island.Effect
I value many things about the internet: we, on our little island, can reach markets we never did before; many who had no voice, can have their say; old friends can re-connect and share fun memories; I can study – informally, formally, I can share my work, share news when no-one else is…yes, there’s plenty to be grateful for in the age of the internet.

But

There is a lot of dust, dirt, noise, garbage, pollution out there too

Whether it’s Business Advisors who feel they need to tell you they ‘really care about you’ in order to get you to buy their $29.95/$159.95 or Hugely Discounted (just for the special few) $100 off the $999 price of their Guru Course, or (yes, self, possibly included), bloggers with their ‘ramblings’ Flickr-ites with their endless badly taken pictures of their ‘works of art’/crafts/travel pics/garden flowers, Pinteresters with their hoards of boards of scores of image after image after image….commenters stating the obvious ‘great post xyz-man – ur the best!’ or the less obvious not-so-quixotic anecdote of the amazingly similar/entirely contrary experience they had…

I don’t mean to be cynical – I’m guilty of much of the above…it’s just that I’m finding myself feeling a little dusty these days, outlook obscured by a persistent haze and thirsty for much more real communication. I think it shocked me how many working people told me recently – including one of my best friends from schooldays – that they just can’t face a computer screen after the countless emails they deal with all day at work. My sister is another one, I have a newer friend in the Middle East who’s another, an even older friend also who has just completely refused to ever get an email…now, I don’t advocate that, but…I do think we need to let the tide recede a bit, let some of the lost treasures of communication be recovered…don’t you think?

I just read an article on the collator UTNE Reader titled ‘Please Mr. Postman’; it particularly caught my attention because not only in the last weeks in particular, have I been assiduously going through my emails and unsubscribing from many I really can live without, but in the process, I’ve also noticed how few there are that are really letters to me…just me…far too few. The article is worth a read. I’ve also been clearing out stashes of old letters, cards, photos too – many of which I have now dumped…but many others of which I chose to keep and in the case of old photos, to share, on that big ol’ Facebook…much to the amusement and enjoyment of old friends…

But also, a couple weeks ago, in my routine twice weekly stop at the post office box to collect the mail/bills (you used to need to do it every day) I found a card addressed to me, from someone in Canada…a name I didn’t really recognize; I immediately assumed it was some pen-pal-nigerian-style scam thing, but still ripped it open to see, the tiny hint of excitement that it might just actually, maybe, possibly, be a real letter…. it was. From an older lady who’d been visiting one of my good friends – she’d handwritten a lovely little letter in a pretty floral card, saying how much she’d enjoyed her visit and meeting me.

Well. I was like a kid at Christmas…really! I laughed out loud at myself and I read the note at least twice.

There is just no feeling like receiving real correspondence – someone actually taking the time to write a personal letter to you. I disagree with the UTNE article in this, that I feel a good email is a good letter to receive also – there is no reason why we shouldn’t put the same effort into writing a good email as goes into a physical mail, and the immediacy can be wonderful too – being able to speak to someone ‘in the moment’ you are feeling/experiencing/wondering whatever it is…there’s great enjoyment in that too I think.
One of my old letters...
I think it’s sad that people are so worn out by the eye, neck and back straining slew of work emails and online ‘life’ that they can not find time or energy to read, far less savour the real communications in their personal inboxes…something is just plain wrong there – don’t you think?

Xoxo
Rambling Fifi