“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” -Einstein
oh but also…
“Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest of God’s gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences.” -Freeman Dyson
Is it possible to lose your writer’s voice? See two sides with equal clarity and become silenced by the ambivalence? Lose touch with the zeitgeist of the times, detached from that constant humming ambient awareness? I think mine got swallowed with Lena Dunham‘s, maybe it got lost in the equations of Edward Frenkel’s Math and Love: the Heart of Hidden Reality. Maybe I lost my writer’s voice when I baked citrus red velvet muffins with poppy seeds, wherein I decided I no longer had to prove my genius in this life, at least not to myself. “I’m done,” I quietly reconciled, convinced those muffins more accurately described the elusive chaotic ecstasy of life better than E=mc2.
But whatever the case, it’s gone. It’s disappeared, quieted and dormant, forgetting its reason to exist. Maybe lost in the shadows of Taylor Swift’s Style Vevo video? I dunno. Most likely silenced by the ambiguity of my life.
So in lieu of its absence, I’m just going to write something completely irrelevant. A humble, inconsequential, mundane and homey blog: The Texts I would send my Father if he had a Cell Phone.
For those of you who don’t know, my father is a mountain man-farmer hybrid, 1950s-blast-from-the-past incarnation of a Sweden grandfather á la Heidi mixed with a retro James Bond. It took our family 15 years to convince him to get a microwave, he laughs at face creams, he takes out his own stitches. Growing up I prepared persuasive presentations on Why Going to the Movies is Okay.
I’ve been hinting for him to get a cell phone for the past five years. I imagine him with it, then I laugh, “No”. It’d be like giving a mobile to Thor fresh from Asgard, like giving a flip phone to a modern Gandalf. I can picture it now, his ring tone changed to the sound of blowing wind. But I think of texts I’d send him all the time. Sometimes I forget he doesn’t have a cell phone and I type one in…
- Would-be convenient in-transit texts like:
So many times I wish I could text my dad while he’s out cell-phoneless. I’ll need to tell him about change in plans, schedules or emergencies. I literally almost re-invented the cell phone myself out of this necessity, thinking “If only I could invent something for my dad so he could talk to us long distances while he’s away from home. Hmmm…”
- Quirky Knowledge texts and plant emoticons
- Delayed responses:
**your. And there’s really nothing Google knows that we don’t.
He reads the news a lot and so do I. Making him a Flipboard Account, was my foot in the technological door.
- Survival Inquiries:
- Because my dad predominately talks about the sun :
Then I’d Instagram 10 sunrises, which he wouldn’t like. But he’d comment on all of them. Partly because he wouldn’t know how to ‘like’ them and what’s more, a like would not express his specific emotional responses. To him, a like would be the low-achiever version of actually being fond of something. “What good is a like?” he’d ask, truly baffled.
- Meal texts:
The next text would be sent half an hour later: We’re eating. Then five minutes later, he’d walk in the door.
- Proud Moments:
I’d Instagram this too , and then, with this coaster photo, he’d finally understand the meaning of a simple ‘like’ and he’d heart the photo !
- Apology texts:
My dad would be like “I didn’t know you were mad at me but…..good then!”
- FYI texts:
- WTF texts:
- More location texts:
The truth is my dad’s from a simpler time. When people didn’t over-share, over-communicate or feel it necessary to be constantly connected and approved, constantly calculating their ‘likes’ and planning their posts, testing the strength of their hash tags. Basically fighting for virtual territory like the first pilgrims claiming plots. And in many ways, my father’s old-fashioned methods are good, although often inconvenient, simultaneously slow and intense. Sometimes breakfast is a world clashing affair: the modern twitter-tumblr divas meet their ultra-private mountain man father. But having been without Facebook myself for a year (next post) I can relate, and his stubborn ways honestly remind me of myself (that’s where he got it from). I think he sleeps so well at night because his conscious isn’t spread over 10 different sites with three pseudonyms, his day not swayed by posts, his confidence isn’t measured by likes. He gets zero likes every day and he couldn’t care less. For this indifferent bliss, sometimes I think my dad has a greater appreciation of the lovely things in life, the slow ways of nature the world has presumably outpaced.
But I think we’re coming back. We’re figuring out how to mix nature and simplicity with social media, learning how to use it and not abuse it, mixing the old with the new. Maybe we lost our voice for a bit there, got overcrowded and over-buzzed. But we’re finding our voice again, emerging stronger and better having gone back for what we left behind…
Till next time,
love and good wifi to you all,