That's what it's come to really. If you blog and you miss a day (or a week or whatever) people wonder. On facebook? Your friends follow. Tweeting? They follow more. Have e-mail? Your friends, too? Why aren't you keeping up? Smart phones let you follow and be followed everywhere. You never have to out of touch with buddies or family.
I still don't have a smart phone. (I am starting to pass my phone around at parties and meetings to show what a relic it is.) But I have opened a Twitter account. (Not to Tweet but just to follow one person. No it's nothing like that. Just a blogger I like.) I am kind of a facebook addict and I try to make my silly life interesting in short, frequent sentences. I blog, of course. And I have been thinking about this blog entry for a few days. (It was better in my head, really it was.)
Anyway, I was thinking about how, now that we are so connected in so many ways, that it is a radical act not to communicate or to build communication walls with a particular person. Wasn't always so.
Around Labor Day 1972 I left for a tramp around Europe. I had an open-ended return ticket (to New York anyway) and a three month Eurailpass, a bit of money and a vision of adventure. It wasn't exactly what I imagined but it was pretty glorious. I came home around the first week of December. Letters went home, taking many days if not weeks. Letters came to Post Restantes or American Express Offices and finally to the home of friends of friends. Long lapses of communication. I phoned home maybe once or twice. Expensive proposition of going into an office, waiting in line, getting a booth and having the call placed. With no Internet and a limited knowledge of the languages around me, I craved words in English. Precious English language novels and magazines were passes around and after I made friends with someone who worked on an army base we got some magazines that way.
I was out of touch with people back home. They had to follow along with those much-delayed letters and postcards. The lag did us some good, I think. Put a bit of reflection on all relationships. Dulled the edges of things. I still have some of the postcards I sent home. And letters on thin paper designed for Air Mail with every bit of the space carefully filled. It allowed me to grow in a new place and way.
Makes me wonder if our very connectedness today doesn't tie us to our current selves. Not that much personal growth or change will come about at my age. Although...what do you think of my radically short haircut? And what do you think about the fact that everyone on the Internet can see it this way? No going away now to lose a few pounds, change your hairstyle or get a tan and surprise everyone next time they see you. You have to upload mobile pictures all along the way.
It's not really true, though. Actually we can't mentally keep up with any more things than we can physcially really. When millions are out there, you can still just keep up with so many. But maybe you can do it at home, while being a recluse and communicating only one way and keeping your haircut to yourself.