Been a while since my last blog post (a phrase hauntingly reminiscent of my parochial school years), but I have a really good reason. I’ve reached a new phase in my life, grand-parentage. Took a few weeks off to trek out west, where daughter number one has brought into the world an amazing baby boy. Though I brought tools to write on the road, the creative keyboard went untouched in favor the simple act of belonging.
I wrote about such silence last year in Going Off The Grid. That incident was less voluntary; influenced by geography and lack of signal. I remember it being inspirative; separated from the noise of media input. My senses rekindled a childhood when social media used voices and a high tech communication device called a telephone.
News of yesteryear tended to be local, our connection to the world from newspapers, radio, or the sage voice of newscasters like Walter Cronkite on one of only three television channels. The degree of separation by thousands of miles made connecting to family sparse, nearly impossible for some. I concede today’s interconnectivity has brought a great deal of good. Closeness to family has never been easier. I get to Facetime live with my new grandson; hear his newborn squeaks and gurgles, see the fatigued yet joyful look in his parent’s eyes.
As with all good things, we’ve had to deal with modern media’s darker siblings; the travails of humanity filling video streams 24/7, exploitive snake oil hawkers plying the grid, the trolling of unscrupulous strangers. Some folks think our global media party line has destroyed our innocence. Truth is, innocence had a shield called incognizant. What you can’t see or hear, can’t hurt you. Ignorance is bliss, or so we convinced ourselves.
I read three books in the last two weeks. Can’t remember when I had time for such literary introspection. All had futuristic themes with dystopian elements. I came to realize a common thread with the stories I’d read – the bond of human interaction stressed, radically systemized, or severed altogether. Ease and levity of human communication, taken for granted, spiraled back to the dark ages.
I’ve often railed (politely) on our reliance on social technology to the detriment of a human touch, but sixty years ago, touching someone you love on opposite coasts was limited to words on paper, a photograph, and the infrequent, expensive phone call. Might as well be on the other side of the planet.
I went off the grid for awhile, ignoring for a time the noise of the world and the isolated, solitary activity I call writing. I came back invigorated and ready to log back on. We can’t go back to the connective limitations of yesteryear, nor do I want to. But every once in a while, it’s nice to set the modern tools of connection on standby, and reach for the warmth of a human touch.