Saturday, January 25, 2014

Metamorphosis of the Butterfly

Somehow, I seem to find connections between almost everything and anything. They just pop up. When I may be thinking some odd thought randomly, then another thought comes around and connects to the previous one, or something happens to make me think, hey, that's just an extension to this thought...or sometimes, someone else comes out expressing their own thoughts and their thought just somehow aligns itself in symphony with all those already going along the motorways of the mind.


Technology

For some time, I have had this ongoing love-hate relationship with technology. No-brainer, right? Because, who doesn't? We've developed a high level of dependency upon technology so that when something actually goes wrong with whatever gadget we are dependent on, it's almost as if the world's ending. Waiting just an extra two seconds more for something to perform or load drives us insane. If the microwave doesn't work, 'oh my God, how do we eat?'.  We lose a phone, our life has become traumatizing. If, God forbid, the power goes out, well, gee, we may as well die. 

Microwave example aside, I'm going to pick on those devices which entail furthering communication. It boggles my mind, observing how dependent people have become on their devices; getting on a bus and just observing people, dozens, hundreds, all just focused on this tiny rectangle. That's become their world. If something happens to their phone - they lose it or it just doesn't work - it suddenly catapults the person into a whole new sphere, almost like rendering them on a deserted island, in total blackout, radio silence, traumatic isolation.

I can say this with my idealistic scorn of course, because I have absolutely no dependency on cell phones. Or, to be more honest, on my own possession of one. In full disclosure of asserting this, I have to admit that I do depend on others' having cell phones to fully optimize our communication. But other than that, my sole technological dependency is via the computer system. My laptop. 

While I spend a good amount of time at a computer - all day at work, and often hours at home also - I do enjoy the time away from being 'on line'. I enjoy being unfettered while outside, and not being one of those phone-absorbed people. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but having phones when outside were once just things to be used in case of an emergency. Now they have meshed so tightly with our everyday lives that they have superseded all other activities.

My 'beef' is with how less we are using our minds with the progress of technology. I harbour this deeply embedded sensation of us as civilization creeping up this graphical curve, slow at first with our lack of technology, then zooming ahead faster and faster at full speed as we develop technology that allows us to perform the most basic actions with greater facility and efficiency, but then we suddenly start slowing down, because with so many machines doing the work for us, suddenly our dependency has become our handicap, and we have forgotten how to actually think.


Imagination

Kids these days have so many options with which to engage their time. Computer games, video games, television, talking books, ...iPads for their own personal use to do all of that. They're born into this new technology-drenched era, so much that to think of any other possibility does not even occur to their mind. It's become taken for granted now that they are entitled. 

But, while it's normal for kids to be able to get a handle on utilizing the most advanced technology and programs, being able to text and type without even trying - things which make the older generations gawk, somehow in the broadening of their accessibility to the world in general, they (we) have in fact put a border on how our minds can grow. 

Imagination, for example, seems to have become one of the foremost casualties in this burgeoning world of technology. You hardly find children today being able to 'make-believe': giving them a bunch of lifeless and unconnected items and they will lose any interest in them almost immediately. Gone is the potential of using our own minds to infuse creativity and life into otherwise lifeless objects and circumstances. I spent my entire childhood creating stories, games, entire story-worlds; hand-me-down toys from other well-off children came alive with their own personalities and entire background stories. Pocahontas became Quasimoto's sister-in-law, John Smith became an Amitabh-Bachchan-song dancer in the Smith Brother's Pub & Grill. Kitty, the Simba-replicated stuffed animal with absolutely no batteries became the official family pet and went everywhere we travelled. Our tiny square of backyard became a huge world wherein our tiny toys had their own farmland, kingdoms, and camping grounds. 

Now, the idea of 'make-believe' almost doesn't exist for children. It has evolved with the last generations to remember what it was, and has almost taken more carnal and definitely adult meanings: "role-play". Once upon a time, role-play was what kindergarten kids did with the random props and dress-up box. Now, I don't even have to explain what has become of the word, because so ubiquitous this evolution, it becomes unnecessary. 

Oh, I know I sound like an aged old woman, and while I am the kiddiest girl around for my age, I also know that while I am a kid at heart, I have an ancient soul. I grieve for the coming generations. Rather than their brains developing new and exciting neuro-pathways creating vast portals of discovery and intellect, the networks that are actually lighting up are those of machines. 


Interaction

The loss of performing what may be perceived as useless activities, such as fooling around with inanimate objects or running around on the streets, comes with the gain of greater interpersonal interaction. Connections are available at the press of a button, communication is accessible round the clock. We've spanned the world hundreds of times, and when once you could be anywhere just by imagining it in your mind, now it's feasible: through technology you are actually capable of connecting to that same place, actually speaking with someone 928502394823 miles away and not just in your imagination.

In elementary school, I was one of just 3 people who put up their hands when our geography teacher asked us who had a computer at home. Then that total number of people went down to two when he then asked who had Internet, my hand still up in the air. I had very little idea of how profound that word, Internet, would actually become, despite being one of the special ones in possession of this Holy Grail.

Perhaps that is what demarcates the concept in my mind so emphatically. I have been on both sides of that line; witness to and part of a generation undergoing profound revolution, consequently I am less susceptible to that sense of entitlement.

But then again, I grew into that generation at a younger age, and taking that in consideration, I can then also understand how parents of our generation would have been even more suspicious of connecting with others through electronic devices. Once upon a time, suspicion of anyone absolutely unknown in person was already in place, now where you cannot even see who it is that you are communicating with - not even a voice, as even with the telephone - imagine the horror.

Years after that moment in my geography class - my short-lived temporary glamour dissipating with the concept becoming so much more mainstream - in high-school, one of my best friends one day told me about this guy she met on the internet, and how they were...well, involved. At that time, I couldn't fathom it. I was already enduring the teenager-fixation of high-school crushology at that time (and boy, was I swimming in that!) that to even comprehend this strange idea of my best friend talking to this random guy on the internet, then somehow falling in love, was totally mind-boggling. Of course, being an open-minded carefree soul, I just accepted it (or maybe I was too entrenched in the drama of my own 239842039840923 crushes at that time) and figured as most crushes at that time and age, it would also be a short-lived thing.

Boy was I wrong. Years (and years) later, she is now engaged to him. And this is amazing taking into consideration 1. the number of years that has actually passed since they first met and 2. they still live where they lived when they met. Her in Toronto, he in California. Of course, there've been numerous visits. But yes, they made it!

But that doesn't even come to me as a shock. Not now. Somewhere down the line, I somehow aligned my appreciation for the internet with my innate belief in love being possible in any form. After high-school, I still wasn't in the fold yet. I went through another year of university before the total unrestricted access to computers and internet finally seeped into my bones and took root.

First came writing. Writing, as I have discussed before, was my companion. When disaster struck and I found myself totally surrounded by a tormenting bubble of loneliness, it was writing that became my balm.
But, even before I really needed it for this reason, I had stumbled upon a blogging site when stalking my new uni best friend's crush for her. (Yes! After all this lengthy and somewhat dry discussion, you finally get some juicy gossip.)

So, this is how it went down. Calculus tutorial. I met her, she met me. We became friends. Became best friends. She confessed a crush on dude. I tormented her by teasing her in millions of ways, i.e. going to talk to him, dancing behind his back for her to notice him, well---let me stop the list before you really think I am crazy. If I haven't really told the story before, I shall save it for another post. In summary, we were in the library one day (well we were usually there, duh) and he happened to be using one of those computers you stand at to do a quick check for whatever, and while she did her usual freeze-wideneyes-hyperventilate routine, I managed to sneak up behind him, but him being 6 feet tall I couldn't see much,  then he just picked up his bag in his usual fastidious and oblivious manner and left, and that's when I noticed he'd left his page open. And it was his blog.

There you have it folks. The key to this portal.


Granted, his blog was on a totally different server, and it took a lot of random stalking his url and dropping random comments under weird aliases (like ApplePie Is Yummy) just to make her have panic attacks (for whatever reason she worried (more like freaked out) that he would know these weird comments ("Hey Grandpa, green apples.") were connected to her. Like really.

But that's how the flicker of a butterfly's wing can create a tsunami across the world.


Connecting

The evolution is predictable. From dropping anonymous comments, to becoming a registered member, to having my own blog, to recording preposterously insane moments with my university friends, to one day having a traumatic experience then suddenly really, actually NEEDING to write for my own solace. Then being on the internet, it only was natural that I encountered people I never met.

I've always been pretty cautious with regards to actually getting close to anyone. Not just strangers on the internet. Friendly, sure, I can do friendly, and everyone who meets me usually gets that impression - unless I want you not to because I do not like you. I have said this before, and I say so again, I have always preferred just having a very select few of very quality friends over a large group of acquaintances. Experience is talking here - the sort which makes a person need writing for solace in the first place.

Then I landed in a place where I was suddenly as anonymous as I chose to be. Then I realized, this is a two-way street. We've been looking at the fact that in the anonymity of the internet therein existed the threat, when on the other side of the coin, there was immeasurable safety and freedom in being anyone - or better yet, no one at all. Then I became liked, and being liked, I became a friend. I became a sister, a confidante, a role model and a best friend. With people who were strangers over the internet.

10 years later. I'm here. I've lived a whole lifetime with those people who became my family. When we have more or less gone our own ways, reminiscing makes me feel as if I am recollecting a previous life. And the sensation is another confusing experience. It once again propagated me into a phase wherein loneliness was my companion, and somehow, I've become even more discriminating about who I let get close to me, and at what distance and for how long.



 Kindred Spirits

When I consider the ease with which children - or rather not only children but those younger than myself seem to be much more vulnerable, no? - are sharing their personal information, sending across pictures, voice chatting, facetiming, whatsapping, with strangers, I cannot help but feel uneasy. I've encountered my own fair share of really really strange individuals on the internet for whom exploiting such information, making threats etc. is apparently what entertains them.

I'm not usually quick to trust just anyone, and this should obviously be how we all are. I have this...thing...with regards to being able to 'feel' a person's personality. Again, this is something I just can't explain. It's what allows me to understand and empathize with a person. It's what makes my literary caricatures of those individuals I put into stories seem so aptly like them.

But those special few. I don't know. There is something even more ineffable about the circumstances of how they happen. We could consider the myriad 'what ifs' that could have taken us on very different paths, but for some reason I really feel that no matter what other hand of cards we'd been dealt and however else we chose to play them, somehow we'd have still inevitably met. Like the dove coming home to its roost every night, somehow perhaps that is how the soul works.

We have connections with everything and everyone simply by our very existence within this huge ecosystem. But sometimes, special connections just pop up. Cherish them.

7 comments:

  1. Technology: I think people have become so secluded from the rest of the world and so absorbed in their phones and technology. Having technology is one thing, using it responsibly is another, but not being able to live without it is just stupidly ridiculous.

    Imagination: I remember when my sister and I were young (at that time there wasn't this much technology!), we used to make whole worlds, become characters, and I guess almost play out movies! All those fun times *sigh*...but on the bright side, I still create my own world out of words.

    Interaction: Everything has its pros and cons right Madam "Apple Pie is Yummy" :P. And I think I already wrote a huge enough post about what I found :)

    Connecting: :)

    Kindred spirits: ♥ *cherishing*

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    1. Plus we may have ended up meeting somehow even without that little flutter of the wings, but I don't know, if that day someone (you know who) hadn't shown me their blog, I probably would not even be on blogger, and if i hadn't found you at that time, I probably would't still be on it (because I was that close to leaving)

      I had never ever written or been even remotely close to wanting to write anything. I guess those tiny moments that lead to this today are the reason I wonder of the "what ifs". But again, it's more of a grateful thought, appreciating myself and anyone else who was part of it :)

      Okay..really should shut up at this point.

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    2. Ok, so almost every time you write a comment, I have this inclination to respond back with a comment that would do just as well as another post! (SEE this is how/why you inspire me!). So hang on, maybe this comment shall flourish as a post in the near future!

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  2. Replies
    1. Brilliant observation, Thinker! Thank you, yes, I am.

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  3. Another wow post from you! I have many times wondered on the same lines.. also being a person who has seen the other side of the world before it became less human and more techie. I regret that my unborn child will never know the pleasure of uncorrupted imagination. Every bit of imagination that my child might have will be aligned with the technology base that has been set already.

    No broken toys, no second hand things, no spinning stories just like that... It is so sad that my heart is heavy whenever I think that the world where I grew up in, the world which molded me into what I am, the worlds created by my mind are fast vanishing around the corner and instead I have no other go to live in this new world where everything is fast becoming virtual.

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    1. Second comment from you (initially phrased "only the second", but there is absolutely nothing "only" about awesome comments), and I have to say that I totally enjoy receiving and reading your comments. Just the way you write them also is incredibly lovely; there is a sober, soothing and well-thought out quality to your comments that make me realize that my own posts are such a blizzard of 20398409234823 thoughts colliding simultaneously. -- Thank you.

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