I’ve been thinking about things lately; things I often end up in the middle of with no idea of the journey. In betweens.
I suppose that’s the very definition of thoughts anyway. At least until that inner dialogue combines with the emotional tongue – with all its lashing out and sweetness. Who ever thought the endless battle was between the head and the heart had not yet recognized how the tongue lies between. Neither head nor heart would amount to much otherwise. The irony, it seems, is in the puppetry of the mouth when the mouth seems to be the one in control – releasing or withholding at will, regardless to the constant conversation of head and mind.
In all those fluttering, mouth-gaping, blank starring moments, I often think of relationships. In this particular case, I find myself thinking most specifically of technology and relationships.
I was born in a technological limbo – somewhere between years of hyper advancement and the dawn of a machine-centered nation. As such, I can explain in great, boring detail how today’s cell phones are much stronger than our first oversized home computers, and I can carry on about my own evolution from the wonder of whiteout ribbons on our electronic type writer to the first version of the CD-ROM – encased in plastic, like the first laser disc.
Everything, then, had such momentum.
I can recall a world before search engines and remember waiting for my friend Lou to send me my Gmail invite at a time when the email service was invitation only. I can describe in perfect tone the sounds of logging into the Internet at 28k speeds in a day when the Internet was priced like long distance phone calls. 10 cents per minute!
Today, we know no limits. Our children, most specifically, know no limits. Unlimited texting. Internet speeds. Connectivity. Binge watching television. On demand. And suddenly it hit me what my problem in particular is and what I mourn most particularly for in a new generation of children – it’s time.
Time spent. Waiting. Connecting. Disappointment. Being wrong. Trying again. Commitment.
Addictions of all kind have plagued relationships since the dawn of time, and there are many discussions regarding computer gaming and cell phone addictions coming between even the strongest couples. But I don’t think that’s it, really. If it wasn’t one thing, it was surely something else before.
It’s single-serving friends and self-centered instant gratitude.
Before now, I thought I was one of those people constantly living in reverse and thriving on what could have been. I’m that person that went back to every boyfriend at least twice and was always on the move between the same places; constantly comparing one moment to a moment I had just had, and one place to another I had just been.
While more mature about my reverse aptitude, I still have that same problem. Sure, I know (probably better than most) that going backwards never equates to going back. You can never go back. And I’ve learned to move on almost to a fault. I have no desire to go back to yesterday or back to Utah or back… back… back. Not anymore. Instead, I’m propelled into an obsession on improvement which allows me to pine over a broader picture of past and paint my future with the idea of where I should be now. All the while, this so called improvement may be precisely what’s in the way.
When I was 16, it wasn’t just love at its first real understanding. It wasn’t simply girlish, teenage obsessions and inability to let go. It wasn’t just that I was young. At the turn of the century, everything was bred by chance and possibility.
We trusted each other, fully. We communicated, deeply. We did things together.
For me, young love always felt like a mix of wildfire and down pour. And only recently has it occurred to me that today’s younger generation has little to no feeling about… anything.
While I can explain away the logistics of floppy drives and how I’ve watched power grow stronger while devices grow smaller only to have it all flip on its head and start promoting bigger is better all over again; I have no words to describe what it is like to sit in class, forcefully paying attention to 5-year-old overhead projections, smelling the burn of the light bulb, rapidly tapping a number 2 pencil on the corner of a printed, shared textbook and waiting with violent impatience for that one time each week I get to see the supposed love of my life and spend an afternoon talking about all the things that have happened since we saw each other last.
How do you explain to a generation that misses nothing; that attaches to so many things that attacments in and of themselves are never strong enough to withstand even the slightest threat of silence or withheld information, that they have something to miss? That something is, in fact, missing?
Even I never knew what I was missing until now.
The time to think.
Life was exciting simply because time could stand still. Back then.
Hours spent at bookstores, waiting for a friend to arrive not because you made a plan or sent a text; waiting, simply because you know this is what you do on Tuesday afternoons. Licking the tip of your finger ever so slightly, grabbing the corner of the page with your wet stick and turning through information that was found. It was worked for. It was original. Before the world was on repeat. Copy. Paste. Copy. Paste. Copy. Paste.
The flicker of yellow fluorescence against the glossy covers of countless VHS tapes and DVD covers, only enough to fit one small store. And the disappointment felt when something you looked forward to was gone. Out of stock. Rented. Unavailable. Not answering…
I miss the excitement of connecting.
I miss running from the corner bus stop, up the long, gray cul de sac, slipping across old pine needles, climbing up the massive hill, rushing around the corner of the house to the back door, tripping up our back stairwell to the computer where I sat impatiently monitoring the slow click of the dial tone to find who else was online. Having to wait for your friends or that special someone to log on and appear on your screen.
I miss the ability to experience anything alone. Undocumented.
How do we live in a world where questions have any answer you seek to find? Where no one knows anything from experience, and experience is the one thing we suddenly have enough of. Where mountains are conquered with more robotics than cables Where you can walk the streets of any city without every visiting, and every decisions bends against and weighs upon your desire. And desire is only defined as what can keep your attention long enough to truly seem interesting in a world where we’ve moved beyond expectations and settled in cold, motionless complacency.
How do we live in a world where we talk all day without ever saying anything of real value, but enough to never have to ask or ponder the question of how are you? What did you do today? Yet how do we ever have the pressure to do anything different or unique with our lives when we don’t even ask ourselves to measure one day against the next?
Nothing is led by chance.
No one stands alone in their opinion.
Every fight has fuel.
Every movement has voice.
Every determined know-how is led by someone’s digitally published opinion.
We move in faceless packs. Never alone. Never forced to decide, or be. Yourself.
How do I live not knowing how I am anymore? How do I continue to write when my experiences are fast dwindling, and all I have to speak of are Netflix releases? How do I love when every moment of every day the other stands on the other end of a line, committed to constant communication and breeding only a distinct, uninterested lack thereof? Things like birthdays had more meaning when people had to remember, write it down, plan…
There was a time where things stuck with you because they had to if you ever wanted to share them; a time where good things had the courtesy of being remembered rather than reminded.
There was a time where we missed each other. Today? There’s just something missing. Something that can’t be described.