Saturday, June 26, 2010

Connectivity Killed the Romance Star.

So my social network knows I'm crazy about the World Cup. That's because it's all over my Facebook updates and postings. I've kept my Tweets restrained and restricted to 'professional' re-tweeting of serious news...such as Australia's first woman prime minister. If that's the side of me you prefer, find me on Twitter!

With social media and connectivity, the World Cup has become so much more fun. I can now watch it "with" my friends who are 10,000 miles away on FB or Gchat or Skype. In college we used to watch football in someone's dorm room. Later, it was in someone's home or at a bar. Now, we don't have to leave our child-rearing, home-sitting responsibilities behind. We can still share the experience of a match with our friends in "real time" without stepping out the door. That made it so much fun. Or, did it?

This was me a couple of days ago. The USA-Algeria match was on TV; the England-Slovenia match was streaming on the Mac Book; the iPod Touch was in one hand for FB and chats; the Blackberry was in the other for phone calls and emails. With so much connectivity around me, I actually could share the experience with many more people. See if I was watching with a bunch of people somewhere, it would just be with that bunch of people. But there, in my connectivity hub, I was sharing the experience with people around the US, in England, and in Asia.

During the half time break, I actually managed to use the bathroom, fix lunch, make coffee, take a call, and tweet, all at the same time (well, not all) and in time to be right back in position for the second half. And that was when it hit me. I saw a tweet from someone I didn't know that said that making tapes for someone is still the most romantic gesture of all time.

Wow. How true. I thought of all the ex-es I made tapes (and then later CDs) for and who did the same for me. For a second there, just before the second half started, I got that warm, fuzzy buzz. After the games were over (and I was very happy with the results) I felt like I had to unplug -- log out of all my accounts, shut down and just be NOT connected.

I kept thinking of the tweet, though, and how much technology and connectivity, while purportedly bringing people closer together, have actually taken away good old intimacy and romance.Think about this, starting with...

Making tapes:
Music on the go became a lifestyle phenomenon when the Sony Walkman was invented. In those days, making a tape for someone was the most romantic thing you could do. Then came the CD players, and you could still burn music files on to a CD. I'm not even going to go into the MDs and other formats that didn't take off, but basically, you can put together music for another person in a way that said, this is how much I care about you. Now, with iPod and iTunes, who wants CDs, and you don't need to figure out playlists because the Genius does it for you. Very cool and chic. Nothing warm or fuzzy.

Writing letters:
Before the music tapes, there was the love letter and the pen pal letters. Does anyone remember when it was cool to write letters? When pen is put to paper, thought is needed to make the words flow just right. When we write, the act somehow also inspires us to reveal our most intimate thoughts and feelings. Now, we have email. Who writes pensive, pining or pretty emails? Get to the point, cut to the chase, I have another 5,000 un-read mails in my inbox. Let's think of all the guys who would fail miserably if they had to write an email to express themselves...Shakespeare, Neruda, Keats, etc.

Phone call:
Now that we have text messaging, instant chat, Skype, Gtalk, FB chat, who really takes the trouble to call? Why do you need to spend hours talking about nothing over the phone, when you can send a text message or chat msg and get it over with in 5 minutes? Instead of calling someone just to see if he or she is ok, you can send an email. Hi, just dropping a note to say hope you're ok. We should hang out some time. And when that time comes, the meeting can be set up via email too. This place-that place- this, this or this day/time, that day/time is better....etc. After about five or ten mails, we'll get it right. That, is still easier than picking up the phone, especially if it's the iPhone 4. And now that we have email on our mobile phones, that makes life even easier.

In the same way, social networking sites have made life so much easier. Now I can know all the things I want to know about a 'friend' through his or her profile. I don't have to invest time chatting on the phone, or hanging out over coffee. There's so much connectivity all around me I can plug into and play.

So, what exactly was I complaining about again?

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