“Remember that Gilbert and Sullivan song – I’ve Got It on My List, It Never Will Be Missed? All night I listed grievances. Next morning early I bought a pistol. I purposely muddied my feet. I stood at our front door. The front door shrilled, ‘Dirty feet, muddy feet! Wipe your feet! Please be neat!’ I shot the damn thing in its keyhole. I ran to the kitchen, where the stove was just whining, ‘Turn me over!’ In the middle of a mechanical omelet, I did the stove to death. Oh, how it sizzled and screamed, ‘I’m shorted!’ Then the telephone rang like a spoiled brat. I shoved it down the Insinkerator. I must state here and now I have nothing whatever against the Insinkerator; it was an innocent bystander. I feel sorry for it now, a practical device indeed, which never said a word, purred like a sleepy lion most of the time, and digested our leftovers. I’ll have it restored. Then I went in and shot the televisor, that insidious beast, that Medusa, which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little, but myself always going back, going back, hoping and waiting until-bang!”
When I first read Ray Bradbury’s “The Murderer”, I swore to myself that I would never succumb to this futuristic non-silent life. No, I can live with silence! I was after all…right next to my yearbook picture during my senior year in high school…it said “Silence is golden.”
I was referring to the fact that I preferred observing than speaking. But that I felt that most people talked a lot…talked so much.
Yet the irony is, I have involved myself in social media. I participate on facebook—leaving the “silly comments” on people’s walls and commenting on their statuses. I use twitter, both to complain, whine and to celebrate. I post photos on Flickr and even occasionally on Facebook, helping people tag photos. I surround myself with noise, purposefully living in San Francisco. I check email frequently. I check my phone almost nonstop. And sometimes, I find myself getting angry when I can’t get in contact with someone—I almost want to have a tracker on people to see where they are at.
And yet, have I evolved into something that the short story suggests? Unlike many here in San Francisco, I opted out of getting a smart phone—no blackberry or iphone. I prefer purposeful phone calls over intermittent texts.
Chris had sent me the Newsweek article titled Why I’m Quitting Facebook. At first, I was appalled. Of course, that’s what facebook is for. I post photos so that everyone can see them! I write status updates because I want to tell people where I am eating out and what party I am attending!
For the last few years, I saw facebook as the mechanism that I increase my sociability and personal gain. Like maintaining the Sims and the animals in Animal Crossing, it was a way to increase my points (to put it so logically) with others in case of required favors, compassion, understanding, attention…etc. to satisfy my relationship needs. I used to hate the idea of the Facebook feed and purposefully littered it with tons of updates when it first came out. But suddenly we got used to it—I liked knowing that my friends got a new couch (yay mike and lauren), finding out that a blast from the past got married (ouch?), learning that my cousin is engaged before the rest of the family knew (friends apparently know before family)…
But the point is…if life is only about being digital, then there’s no point. Even during the era where I existed only online, there was always this future intent to meet in person. That’s ok, right?